In-form trainer Owen Burrows continued his purple patch with Hukum hosing up at Newbury in the 1m 5f Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes.
The three-year-old son of Sea The Stars made the step up to pattern company look very easy indeed. After tracking the leaders on the inner, this Hamdan Al Maktoum owned colt only needed pushing along and took things up approaching the final furlong.
Hukum stayed on strongly under Jim Crowley for a 2 1/2 lengths victory over last year’s Zetland Stakes scorer Max Vega who made most of the running. Younger horses filled the first couple of places here.
The front two pulled a further 2 1/2 lengths clear of Alignak who just held Morando for third. Getting some black type in the Geoffrey Freer saw bookmakers add Hukum to the St Leger betting at Doncaster next month.
He handled a softer surface for the first time in his career and now has three wins from four starts. This was a clear step up on his Royal Ascot success in handicap company after landing the King George V Stakes.
Hukum is now a top-price 10/1 with Betfred for the final Classic of the season on 12 September. Trainer Burrows says the St Leger will now be up for discussion.
“Hukum might be a bit better going a bit quicker [but] he was impressive,” he told the Racing Post. “He had never ran on soft ground [before], so until they have run on it you are a little worried, but he handled it fine,
“He is strengthening as the year goes on and is very exciting. The St Leger will be spoken about, but this horse has got a bit of speed and I don’t think we are talking about a Cup horse.”
Analysis: Hukum heroics give Crowley and connections a call to make
Jamie Clark, Horsebetting.com Editor
Last year’s St Leger scorer Logician wasn’t regarded as a true stayer, so that hardly matters. What Crowley and Sheikh Hamdan now have is a nice problem on their hands.
The same owner and retained rider also have another with claims for the Doncaster Classic. That is the William Haggas trained Al Aasy who landed the Bahrain Trophy during the July Festival at Newmarket.
His victory there was against horses of his own age, while Hukum has won in the same grade in open company. There was a lot like about the way he did it too.
The St Leger picture always becomes clearer following the Great Voltigeur during the Ebor Festival at York. It is not the last Classic trial but, like the Queen’s Vase, one of the better ones.
Winners of St Leger trials in 2022
- Queen’s Vase – Santiago
- Irish Derby – Santiago
- Epsom Derby – Serpentine
- Bahrain Trophy – Al Aasy
- Gordon Stakes – Mogul
- Geoffrey Freer – Hukum
- Great Voltigeur – 19 August
- March Stakes – 29 August
There’s a disturbing lack of variety in connections of winners of those races. All six so far are either trained by Aidan O’Brien on behalf of the Coolmore set or in Sheikh Hamdan’s ownership.
Other than Addeybb’s Australian exploits with back-to-back Group 1 wins Down Under this spring, the Haggas stable isn’t having what you would call a vintage season.
His campaigning of Epsom Oaks hope Born With Pride left more questions than answers. Running Al Aasy under a penalty in the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood won by Mogul when he trailed in last raised eyebrows too.
Crowley could now have a choice to make. Hukum could always go down in trip afterwards, but the betting tells you he is more fancied for St Leger success than Al Aasy.