Alflaila swoops late for triumphant York return

Alflaila made a triumphant return to action with an impressive display in the Sky Bet York Stakes.

The Owen Burrows-trained four-year-old won a Listed race at Pontefract and successive Group Threes to round off last season, including a verdict at York in the Strensall Stakes.

A subsequent injury suffered when being readied to run in Bahrain delayed his reappearance, but he proved his talent remains very much intact with a smart performance on the Knavesmire.

A small but select field of five went to post for the Group Two contest, with My Prospero the even-money favourite to make the most of a slight ease in class after finishing fourth in the Lockinge at Newbury and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on his first two starts of the season.

But after responding to Tom Marquand’s urgings to grab the lead late on, he was unable to resist the challenge of Alflaila, who had been biding his time in behind under Andrea Atzeni and swept by in the closing stages to prevail by half a length.

Royal Champion was only a length further behind in third, with Checkandchallenge fourth and Mashhoor last of five after cutting out the early running.

Alflaila’s success was the first leg of a huge double on the day for Burrows and owners Shadwell, with Hukum later triumphing in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

“I’ll be honest, I only watched Alflaila on my phone as I was saddling Hukum at the time, but I’m obviously delighted,” said the trainer.

“Andrea said they went slowly early on and he did well to pick up as well he did. It was a good performance, coming off such a lay-off after an injury. It’s been a huge team effort.

“We felt he was on the upward curve last year and it was a shame what happened in Bahrain and we’re now having to start off his season at the end of July, but there’s plenty of nice races left, so hopefully he’ll be fine in the morning and we can make a bit of a plan then.

“He’s in the Juddmonte International back at York (August 23) and we’ll have a chat with Angus (Gold) and Richard (Hills) and Sheikha Hissa (of Shadwell). They obviously have the favourite for the race anyway in Mostahdaf, so we’ll enjoy today and look to the future once we know he’s all right.”

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