Julie Camacho’s super sprinter Shaquille has been doing his stalls homework ahead of his run in Haydock’s Betfair Sprint Cup.
The three-year-old has been an unstoppable force this season, winning a Newmarket handicap before stepping into Listed company to take the Carnarvon Stakes by two lengths – both times under James Doyle.
Doyle’s duties with Godolphin prevented him from taking the ride on the colt in the Commonwealth Cup and his loss was Oisin Murphy’s gain as he prevailed at Group One level by a length and a quarter.
The same situation arose in the July Cup at Newmarket, where Rossa Ryan got the leg-up as Shaquille gained another top-flight success for the Camacho team. On both of his most recent runs, however, the bay left himself with ground to make up when rearing in the stalls and missing the break.
As a result Camacho and her husband and assistant Steve Brown have turned to Craig Witherford, a specialist horseman who helps with tricky loaders. Doyle was on board for the schooling and remains first choice for Haydock, if his Godolphin commitments leave him available.
“He is in good form, everything’s going to plan for a week on Saturday at Haydock,” said Brown.
“He had a little rest after the July Cup, which was always our intention, he’s done two bits of work to his normal standard – he’s not a flashy worker at home.
“I had a chat with Craig after Newmarket because we thought Ascot was a one-off, but then it wasn’t, so we needed to do something to try to make him jump out more convincingly.
“He was loaded with a rug and before he jumped out the rug was taken off, it certainly worked on Thursday.
“He jumped out and looked pretty convincing, hopefully that will be the case when he goes to Haydock.
“It all about your use of energy, it’d be nice if he could get out smoothly and we’d really see what he can do then.”
He added on the jockey situation: “James has always been our first choice since the start of the year, we haven’t discussed it fully but I think he’d be our first port of call – we’ll see what his availability is and go from there.”