Burj Khalifa Challenge Stakes 2011  

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Breeders' Cup Challenge for Impressive Strong Suit

1 Strong Suit 13/8F
2 Chachamaidee 7/4
3 Maqaasid 6/1
8 ran Distances: 4½l, nse, 2¼l
TIME 1m 22.74s (fast by 0.26s)
Jockey: Richard Hughes
Trainer: Richard Hannon

Strong Suit booked his ticket to Kentucky and an anticipated dream showdown with Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (November 5) after registering an impressive victory in the Group Two Burj Khalifa Challenge Stakes.

Strong Suit
© Racehorse Photos

Strong Suit

Richard Hannon’s charge, sent off the 13/8 favourite, travelled sweetly throughout the seven-furlong contest and burst clear inside the distance for a four and a half-length triumph under Richard Hughes.

Strong Suit was scoring for the first time in the colours of Qatar Bloodstock Ltd, the Sheikh Fahad Al Thani-backed operation that purchased the colt after his win in the Group Two bet365 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in August.

David Redvers, Sheikh Fahad’s racing manager and bloodstock advisor, revealed: “It’s the Breeders’ Cup Mile all the way now, that’s why we bought him. Thank goodness we are over the first major hurdle - he should probably start favourite for the Breeders’ Cup after that.

“I would have liked to have seen Goldikova win the other day (in the Prix de la Foret). It’ll be a fairytale if she wins the Breeders’ Cup (for the fourth successive time) and an even bigger fairytale if we do.”

Strong Suit is likely to retire to take up stallion duties at Redvers’ Tweenhills Stud after his American adventure.

Redvers continued: “It will be the Breeders’ Cup and then Tweenhills. But then these are very sporting owners so plans can change, but that is why he was bought.

“Qatar Bloodstock colours are the colours of Sheikh Fahad and his brothers. All the mares and breeding stock are owned by Qatar Bloodstock, which is an investment company. This is the investment wing at work.”

Hannon commented: “He’s a lovely horse to train and he has enough speed for America. You need speed over there but he would win at five, six or seven furlongs. His speed means he will adapt to anywhere.”

Strong Suit impressed the bookmakers. Ladbrokes and Bet Victor price him at 4/1 for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, while William Hill goes 5/1 from 8/1 behind 7/4 favourite Goldikova.


Starting Price
Beaten Distance
Strong Suit
R Hannon
R Hughes
9st 5lbs
13 - 8
Sir H R A Cecil
T P Queally
9st 0lbs
7 - 4
4 1/2 lengths
J H M Gosden
R Hills
8st 12lbs
6 - 1
P F I Cole
William Buick
8st 12lbs
14 - 1
2 1/4 lengths
C E Brittain
N Callan
8st 12lbs
25 - 1
2 1/2 lengths
Across The Rhine
T Collins
P Shanahan
9st 3lbs
20 - 1
2 1/4 lengths
Giant Sandman
R Haugen
Fredrik Johansson
9st 3lbs
20 - 1
1/2 length
Lechevalier Choisi
J B McCabe
P J Smullen
9st 1lbs
25 - 1
7 lengths



Richard Hughes, who partnered the impressive winner of the Burj Khalifa Challenge Stakes, Strong Suit, told Emma Spencer of Channel 4 Racing: “He was very good - the ground is very loose and he was not mad about it but got away with it - he was very impressive.

“I got a lovely lead off the Irish horse (Across The Rhine) who went very quick. Strong Suit has so much speed.

“The Breeders’ Cup Mile is made for him - rock hard ground and he goes left under pressure so we are going the right way.”

The Breeders’ Cup Mile takes place on the turf course at Churchill Downs Racecourse in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, November 5.


© Racehorse Photos

Strong Suit was the impressive winner of the Burj Khalifa Challenge Stakes, but two good fillies had a tight battle for second, in which the Henry Cecil-trained Chachamaidee just got the better of Maqaasid by a nose.

Chachamaidee’s owner, Tony Evans, could not be at Newmarket today, but his brother, Damien, said: “We’re very pleased with that - she’s had seven runs and been in the places every time. She settles much better now than she did and I would think she will be kept in training next year.

“She was second to Sahpresa in a Group One here last month [Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes] and I believe Tony would like to breed from her one day.”

Breeding is also on the cards for third-placed Maqaasid, trained by John Gosden and owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum. Maqaasid was third in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas on this course on May 1, which, when added to her pedigree, makes her a valuable addition to the Sheikh’s Shadwell breeding operation.

Trainer John Gosden said: “I’m very pleased with her, it was a good solid run,” while Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager, Angus Gold, added: “Normally Sheikh Hamdan retires three-year-old fillies at the end of the year, and as the winner of a Group race who has been third in a Guineas that will be her future.

“She’s very well bred and, while no decision has been made, that is the likely outcome.”

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