Owen Burrows feels he has a lot to thank Hukum for as he prepares to send his King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes champion straight to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The six-year-old has won 11 of his 17 career starts and it was somewhat fitting that having provided the Lambourn-based handler with both his first Royal Ascot and Group One winner, Hukum was front and centre once again as Burrows enjoyed his finest hour in the training ranks on Saturday.
Having downed last year’s Derby winner Desert Crown on his comeback from a career-threatening injury sustained when winning the 2022 Coronation Cup, Baaeed’s brother was at the peak of his powers in the hands of Jim Crowley in Ascot’s midsummer showpiece to tee up a trip to Paris on the first Sunday in October.
As short as 6-1 for the Arc, Burrows is determined to enjoy Hukum while he can as he begins to dream of victory in Europe’s richest middle-distance contest.
He said: “I owe him a lot. He’s been around for a while, he was my first Royal Ascot winner and my first Group One winner.
“We travelled him to Dubai after the sad passing of Sheikh Hamdan and that was a big thing for him to win over there on Super Saturday as well.
“He’s been a tremendous horse in my career and he’ll be very hard to replace, but we’ll enjoy him while we can.”
He went on: “He’s all well this morning. He ate up and he’s been out and had a lead out and a nice pick of grass and trotted up sound, so touch wood all good.
“The Arc is something like eight weeks today and that is the obvious plan now. The plan has always been King George in the summer and then trying to get him to France in the beginning of October and now we can start dreaming.”
All of Hukum’s victories have come on ground no quicker than good and having proven very effective with a little cut in the ground, there are plenty of positive signs ahead of Hukum’s autumn visit to the French capital for a race often run in testing conditions.
Burrows added: “He would go on faster ground and it was pretty quick in the Sheema Classic when he was only beaten a length and three-quarters.
“But he’s obviously had a hard enough race there yesterday and knowing we can get him cherry ripe following a layoff, I don’t think we need to be giving him a prep run.
“I would love to get him to the Arc and I think we would be talking about soft ground. Yesterday Jim (Crowley) felt it was a little bit dead ground, there wasn’t a lot of life in it. He handles most ground, but he obviously handles soft ground very well and we can dream.”
Hukum’s victory came just 25 minutes after another of Burrows’ Farncombe Down string, Aflaila, landed the Group Two York Stakes to give the handler a fantastic cross-card Group-race double.
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He has been inundated with congratulatory messages since and admits it did take some time for the achievement to sink in.
“It’s been quite busy and I’m literally sitting down trying to work through all the messages, but it is going to take me a while,” said Burrows.
“I’ll admit yesterday I was a bit shellshocked, but now it is finally sinking in and what a day, what a great day.
“I’ve not been at it too long (training), but it was well documented this horse (Hukum) was injured at Epsom last year and to get him back to this level is a huge team effort. From the guys at Shadwell who rehabbed him, to my guys here at Farncombe, it’s a big big team effort.”
- Racing TV