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
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own