Improving Hukum Inspiring High Hopes

May 27, 2020

Photo Credit: Shadwell Racing/Owen Burrows

In a mere two starts as a juvenile last year, Hukum displayed no small amount of promise. Trained by Owen Burrows, the Shadwell homebred of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum began with a third at Newbury in September astern Cherokee Trail, who would go on to finish 10th in the Saudi Derby in February. The son of Sea the Stars returned two months later on the all-weather of Kempton, closing with a superb turn-of-foot in the final furlong and defeating subsequent Al Bastakiya Trial winner Laser Show. 

Given the winter off to mature, the leggy bay grandson of Breeders’ Cup winner Lahudood has come on nicely, per his conditioner, and is nearing a return. He is also one of only eight Shadwell runners with an early entry into the Epsom Investec Derby (G1).

“He was quite late as a 2-year-old and I was more than happy with his run at Newbury, always knowing seven furlongs was going to be a bit sharp for him,” Burrows said. “He took his time to get over that and that was why he wasn’t out until later on over the all-weather at Kempton. I thought he would go very close that day and for the first half of the race (before making up about eight lengths in the final 300m) I was wondering what was happening, but that’s him. 

“Richard Hills was on him for a piece of work last week and he worked very similar to that,” Burrows continued. “He’s a bit laid-back and mentally needs to switch on a bit more. Then Dane O’Neill rode him on Saturday and he did look a bit sharper, so hopefully it’s just starting to happen for him. There’s a Listed race possibly penciled in on Saturday, June 6—a race that’s just before the 2000 Guineas (G1) going a mile and two.” 

Said fixture is the Newmarket Stakes (Listed) over 10 furlongs, which has been won by the likes of Hawkbill and Noble Mission in recent years and three times by Burrows’ former boss, Sir Michael Stoute. 

“(Hukum) has a good mind and is quite laid-back about everything, which is a nice problem to have,” Burrows explained. “From what we saw when he won, we know the ability is in there—it’s just a case of getting it channeled out in the right direction. I don’t think we need to be going any shorter than a mile and a quarter and I have no qualms with him going a mile and a half when we need to. 

“(The Derby) is the dream, as such, and he is pretty inexperienced for something like the Derby, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be associated with a few Derby horses who had similar experiences,” Burrows concluded. “If he runs well, there’s also always the possibility of Royal Ascot for the Hampton Court (G3). We’ll see how he works and go from there.” 

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