Haatem delivers Vintage victory for Hannon

Haatem held off the late lunge of Iberian to win the Nicholson Gin Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

Second to 2000 Guineas favourite City Of Troy in the Superlative Stakes last time out, albeit beaten six and a half lengths, Haatem was finally enjoying his moment in the sun after several respectable efforts this season.

Sean Levey rode him with confidence and was never too far from the pace, but the same could not be said of Charlie Hills’ Iberian, who was slowly away.

That left William Buick with no choice but to drop in at the rear and when push came to shove, that allowed Haatem (9-4 favourite) to get first run.

Haatem quickened up stylishly away from Witness Stand and Golden Mind, and while Aidan O’Brien’s Mountain Bear briefly looked a threat, it was Iberian who threw down the last challenge.

He could never quite get on terms, however, and went down by a length.

It was a first win in the race for Hannon, a Group Two his father won five times.

He said: “I’m very pleased, he’s a lovely horse and he ran so well in the Coventry and the Superlative. He was very unlucky in the Woodcote, he didn’t get any luck on the inside. That was our day and I thought it was all going wrong, but on days like today you realise you get your luck back.

“I thought this was his day, it was almost his Derby but he will get better as the year goes on. He’s a horse that’s big enough for next year, it’s not about being a two-year-old.

“He ran here first time and he’s improved all year. He’s a Group Two winner now so obviously we have to aim high, but he’s getting better.

“Something like the Dewhurst (will be the aim), he’s got to improve to take on the big guns but he’s doing that with every run.

“This horse has won a very good race, (Ascot winner) Rosallion might be the best we’ve had for years. This fella is a quiet achiever, he gets better every day.

“This lad is your mate, he tries every time and he’s just getting better.”

Hills will also look towards the Dewhurst with Iberian.

He said: “William was very impressed with him. He was drawn nine and has run a great race. It’s nice to know you have a horse you can target the top races with, and we will look at the Champagne Stakes and if that goes to plan the Dewhurst.

“I think the softer surface just blunted the speed out of him and he floundered in the going.

“But he’s a good horse for the future and could be a Guineas horse.”

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