Al Wukair seeking confidence-booster before Group 1 return


The 2,000 Guineas third Al Wukair takes a big drop in grade at Maisons-Laffitte on Sunday for a confidence booster in preparation for an autumn campaign back in the highest class.

The colt took a while to recover from his excellent run behind Churchill and Barney Roy in a Guineas whose form has been well franked, and trainer Andre Fabre has opted to run him over a straight mile again in the Group 3 Prix Messidor rather than over another two furlongs in the earlier Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam, in which he also held an entry.

Explaining the decision, Harry Herbert, for owner Al Shaqab Racing, said on Saturday: "Monsieur Fabre is very pleased with Al Wukair but he wanted him to go for the easier option. He took a bit of a hit after the Guineas and went a bit quiet, and when he was due to run in the Prix du Jockey Club Andre just wasn't entirely happy with him.

"His work was okay, but just not quite so good as it had been. He felt he hadn't quite recovered and so he took a pull with a view to bringing him back in something less testing."

Hopes are still high for Al Wukair in the second half of the season. Herbert added: "He's a very talented horse and that was a hell of an effort in the Guineas. Hopefully he'll run a big race in the Messidor and then be launched for a Group 1 campaign later in the season."

Despite Al Wukair sidestepping the Eugene Adam, Al Shaqab still have the likely favourite in Afandem, who is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget and will be partnered, like Al Wukair, by Frankie Dettori.

Afandem is taking a big step up in class after landing a Listed race at Compiegne and he faces a potentially tough opponent in Fabre's Godolphin-owned course-and-distance winner Avilius, but he is held in high regard.

Herbert said: "He's a really talented son of Zoffany and a good horse. He's a very impressive individual with a great physique and Jean-Claude has had this race earmarked for some time."