Aspetar Looms Large In Amir Trophy

Aspetar | ScoopDyga


A winner at the highest level in Germany and victorious in group races in France and England, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Thani's homebred Aspetar (Fr) (Al Kazeem {GB}) appears the class of the field as he makes his Qatar debut in Saturday's US$1-million H H Amir Trophy (2400m) at Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha.

The lightly raced 6-year-old won the G2 Grand Prix de Chantilly and G1 Preis von Europa in 2019 while under the care of Roger Charlton and punched his ticket to the G1 Cox Plate with a 1 1/2-length success in last year's G2 Sky Bet York S. July 25. The dark bay failed to land a serious blow when a distant 11th to Sir Dragonet (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) in the Moonee Valley feature Oct. 24, but a return to his best European form would make him very tough here. Julian Smart now handles the training duties and Maxime Guyon has the riding assignment.

Berkshire Rocco (Fr) (Sir Percy {GB}) raids for trainer Andrew Balding on the heels of a very successful 3-year-old campaign in England in 2020. Second to subsequent G1 Irish Derby hero Santiago (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}) in the G2 Queen's Vase at the Royal meeting in June, he atoned for a fourth in the G2 Great Voltigeur S. in August with a narrow defeat at the hooves of Galileo Chrome (Ire) (Australia {GB}) in the Sept. 12 G1 St Leger S. He makes his first start since taking out the Listed Noel Murless S. at Ascot Oct. 2.

Noor Al Hawa (Fr) (Makfi {GB}) makes his fifth straight appearance in the Amir Trophy, having finished second in 2017 and 2018 (promoted from third). The 8-year-old comes into this test on a four-race winning skein, including a one-length score over Qatar Derby hero Hellenistique (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) in a 2200-metre conditions test Jan. 28.

The rare Australian-bred in the jurisdiction, Off He Goes (Aus) (Casino Prince {Aus}) was named champion older horse at staying trips in Qatar in 2020 and carried Tomas Lukasek to a three-length win in the Khor Al Adid Cup (Local G3) over 2800 metres Jan. 21.

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