Shaquille team basking in Group One glory

Connections of Shaquille are keen to let the dust settle on his popular success at Royal Ascot, with a decision on his July Cup participation to be made closer to the time.

The three-year-old recovered from a tardy start to provide trainer Julie Camacho and her husband and assistant Steve Brown with a first taste of Group One success in Friday’s Commonwealth Cup.

There did not appear to be any fluke about the Charm Spirit colt’s defeat of hot favourite Little Big Bear in Berkshire and Brown admits the success has left the team in North Yorkshire on cloud nine.

“We’re back to reality, but obviously everyone is still on a high and there’s a great feel to the yard, which is wonderful. We’re looking forward to the next chapter, hopefully,” he said.

“We’ll plan to have a proper party at some stage. We had brunch on Monday morning for the staff and thanked them for their efforts and made them understand how important they are in all of this.

“It’s a bit of a whirlwind, but it’s a lovely feeling and one we hope we can replicate again soon.”

Brown reports Shaquille to have taken his exertions well, although he will not return to work until later in the week.

He added: “He’s come back really well, he’s in good form. He’s incredibly straightforward, physically and mentally he’s a very strong horse.

“That’s the one thing I’ve said throughout – we’ve never seen this horse look tired. He came back and he’s enjoyed a few days turned out in his paddock for a couple of hours a day and he’ll probably start some cantering exercise towards the end of the week.

“We like our horses to have a good recovery after they’ve run and Wednesday is physio day so he’ll be checked over to make sure everything is A1 before we start again.”

Brown admits he thought Shaquille had blown his chances of Royal Ascot success after rearing up just as the stalls opened and feels the coolness of jockey Oisin Murphy played a huge part in his recovery.

He said: “Your natural reaction is ‘this isn’t going to work out’ when you see a horse concede that amount of ground, but Oisin was just perfect on him, wasn’t he?

“He showed a wise head, really didn’t rush him and the performance came from the fact that the jockey was eminently sensible and every move he made was the correct one. I think without that we wouldn’t have won the race, so great credit to Oisin.”

Shaquille will be campaigned exclusively at Group One level for the rest of the season, with Newmarket’s July Cup, the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in August, the Sprint Cup at Haydock in September and the Qipco British Champions Sprint back at Ascot in October all in the melting pot.

“The July Cup is the next thing on the map. It comes around quite quickly and it’s one of those situations where you’ll know where you are in 10 days time as you’ll learn how looks and how he feels in himself. You can make a more informed decision closer to the time,” Brown went on.

“He’s obviously in it and he’s a leading fancy for the race. There’s three more domestic Group Ones and it might not be the worst thing in the world if you just concentrated on them, but obviously you’ve got the French race in early August as well.

“With any horse you need to be flexible with your thoughts, but those are the four races I think we’ll be looking at and we’ll just try to get him in the best possible shape for wherever he goes.

“I don’t think we’ll be going further afield at this moment in time. He’s still a young horse who is still maturing physically and mentally. I think we need to be sensible and recognise that.”

With Shaquille now a Group One-winning colt, there is bound to be interest from prospective buyers, but Brown revealed no firm offers have been made at this stage.

Brown said: “There’s been two or three expressions of interest in him, but no more than that at this moment in time that I’m aware of.

“I think that’s natural now we’ve moved into that sort of field. At the moment we’re just concentrating on his next race.”

Source link