Double precedes Defoe's big day

Thu 25 Jul 2019

An evening visit to Sandown brought to an end a pretty frustrating spell of crossbar-hitting for Carlburg runners yesterday, with Moraawed and Motawaj bringing up a very welcome double at the Esher track.

Hamdan Al Maktoum's Moraawed had competed over six furlongs on each run this season up until last night, including over the very fast six at York in a valuable handicap last time. The Swiss Spirit gelding appreciated the different test back over seven furlongs in what was a fairly steadily-run contest, overcoming shipping jockey Jim Crowley on his way to the start to win by a pretty comfortable three quarters of a length. Options are open over six and seven furlongs to the three-year-old, and after only seven starts we would be hopeful of more improvement to come.

The 100% record on the night was maintained by the Sheikh Ahmed-owned Motawaj, a winner of his previous start at Kempton two weeks prior and running off an eight pound higher mark. The manner of that effort at Kempton ensured he was a warm favourite to defy the rise in the weights under Andrea and the son of Dubawi took the rise in grade in his stride, picking up very well up the hill to leave a six-length gap to his elders fighting for the places. Having had one fewer start than Moraawed and possessing a smart pedigree he is likely to be considered for some of the festival and Saturday handicaps going forwards. 

While we're looking ahead there's no better place than Ascot on Saturday and Defoe's attempt to win Roger's first Group 1 King George Stakes. Despite a slight lull in the recent past caused by factors such as its mid-summer position in a more autumn-weighted calender and a move away from more stamina-laden pedigrees the King George remains one of the highlights of the season on these shores, and it will likely take an outstanding performance from the Coronation Cup winner if he's to double his top-level tally. 

Not just faced with one of the greatest race mares of all time in Enable, Defoe will also need to finish in front of Prince Of Wales winner (and last year's King George runner-up) Crystal Ocean, the Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck and Arc 4th Waldgeist as well as six other high-class opponents. However he's in very good form ahead of what is comfortably his biggest test, he's proven himself on quicker ground this summer having always gone well on softer, and he's undoubtedly better than ever as a five-year-old. Despite winning the two biggest middle-distance prizes available to four-year-olds so far this season Sheikh Obaid's star is still available at 14/1 - just goes to show what a classy race is in prospect!  

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