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

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballLatest scores and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties