Patient approach takes Al Kazeem to new peaks

Five-year-old who came back from injury to become best in Europe now faces young guns

A year on from the razzmatazz of Frankel, a much more understated star will this afternoon go for his own little piece of Turf history on the Knavesmire. Without hype or fanfare, and against an assortment of odds, Al Kazeem has emerged as the horse to beat, the only one in Europe with three top-level victories on his CV this season. And should he make it four in the Juddmonte International Stakes, an extraordinary grand slam could be on the cards.

The £750,000 International is one of the campaign's elite tests over a mile and a quarter, an intermediate distance that demands both pace and stamina. In an unbeaten four-race progress this year, Al Kazeem has already taken two of the others, the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Ascot and the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. No horse has added the York showpiece and there is still the end-of-season finale, the Champion Stakes back at Ascot, to come.

That Al Kazeem, a conspicuously handsome individual, is competing at all, let alone at the highest level, is something of a small miracle. In May last year he sustained a hairline fracture to his pelvis in the process of scoring an easy victory in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket and did not reappear for nearly a year. His presence back on the track is a testament not only to the skill and diligence of his human associates, headed by his trainer, Roger Charlton, but also his own remarkably equable temperament.

The five-year-old's initial treatment involved being immobilised in his box for six weeks, close confinement that many a mature thoroughbred male would not tolerate. "It's pretty certain he suffered his injury during that race," said Charlton, "you could see his tail carriage became crooked and he hung across the track, so he was clearly feeling something and all credit to him for sticking to it. But then his strengths are being determined, brave and uncomplicated. And if he had not been a good patient during those early recovery days, then it all might have been different."

It is a rare enough equine athlete who returns from a lay-off as good as before; often a horse injured in action will associate racing with discomfort. For Al Kazeem, though, his enforced absence has merely delayed the fulfilment of his potential.

"He always looked a class act," said Charlton, "but a late developer. And sure enough from three to four he became visibly stronger. First time out at four we weren't necessarily expecting him to win, especially not with such considerable ease. But we realised then that we might have a special horse, so what happened afterwards was the more frustrating."

Al Kazeem carries the colours of his breeder John Deer, who runs an engineering business in south Wales and has a small band of broodmares at his Oakgrove Stud near Chepstow. Charlton, 63, is master of the historic Beckhampton stables on the Wiltshire Downs and has a roll of honour that includes a Derby victory but, again, a string of 75 provides relatively limited ammunition. And both owner, who has turned down seven-figure sums for his pride and joy, and trainer are enjoying their best-ever ride.

Today, though, will be a whole new test for Al Kazeem. He has seen off all the older opposition over his specialist distance but this afternoon will for the first time face some of the best of the young-gun three-year-olds, notably the top-class miler Toronado, stepping up to 10 furlongs for the first time as did Frankel 12 months ago, and the Irish Derby winner Trading Leather, dropping back from a mile and a half. And though he comes to the fray on his fighting weight of 494kg, with an uninterrupted preparation after a brief summer break, and as hot favourite, Charlton is under no illusions about the task facing the son of Dubawi and his young rider, James Doyle.

"It could get muddling and tactical and York is a track where there have been odd results in the past," he said. "We've already had our moments and I suppose anything else is a bonus. But he's straightforward, solid and honest and seeing him do what we believed he could has been hugely professionally satisfying. He is the best I've trained and we're hoping the party can go on a bit longer."

The Juddmonte International Stakes is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series. For more information go to: www.britishchampionsseries.com

Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried