Shaquille ready to begin Sprint Cup prep

Julie Camacho’s July Cup winner Shaquille will begin fast work this weekend as he gears up for the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Winner of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, the Charm Spirit three-year-old followed up with a second Group One success at Newmarket to take his record to seven wins from eight starts.

Steve Brown, Camacho’s husband and assistant, says there has been plenty of big-money interest from potential suitors for the champion sprinter-elect, although any decision will be left to co-owner and joint-breeder Martin Hughes.

“There has been lots of interest in him,” he admitted. “We have directed that down to Martin. He’s waded through it and I think he’s keen to do something more towards the end of the year, really.

“He said pretty early on it was something we’d discuss at the end of the year and we should just get on and enjoy the racing for now in the short term.

“There are lots of scenarios, but he’s been wonderful whatever happens.”

Shaquille has taken his length-and-a-half defeat of Run To Freedom in his stride and the team at Malton in North Yorkshire are now eyeing a Group One treble on September 9.

“Shaquille is in really good form. We purposely gave him a quiet couple of weeks after Newmarket which was always the plan,” added Brown.

“He has been grateful of that I think. He looks well and it has freshened him up. He was pretty quiet for a week there and gradually you could see he was getting over things. He has regrouped nicely and is back cantering.

“We are very pleased with him. He is a very straightforward horse at home and he will do his first bit of fast work on Saturday.

“We are all systems go to Haydock and we’re looking forward to it.

“He unfortunately gives himself a little bit of a tougher time than he might have if he was a little bit more conventional in his use of energy, but he doesn’t.

“He has a great will and a great way of getting the job done. He’s a determined sort of horse, but it is not always as conventional as it might be.”

Options remain open for the colt after the Sprint Cup, although the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot is a more likely option than heading to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup.

“I would think the obvious route would be to go to Champions Day,” said Brown. “We’ve obviously had a little bit of interest in the possibility of going abroad this year, but I think we will be staying at home and probably go to Ascot.

“We’ll go a step at a time, but it will have been a long year by then and he’s still three-year-old and we have to be mindful of that.

“The Breeders’ Cup has been mentioned, but the thing you’d be slightly guarded about at the minute is he’s slow-starting.

“The gate-speed of the Americans, they are so quickly away that I think we’d be at a real disadvantage there.

“The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is five (furlongs) and the dirt is six – we’d probably want it the other way round.

“But we’ll take a step at a time and we’ll know more after Haydock and go from there. You have to keep an open mind.”

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