Haatem Among a Swathe of Purchases for Wathnan Racing

Haatem has joined the Wathnan Racing team | Racingfotos


It was only a year ago that Wathnan Racing first came to prominence during Royal Ascot following their high-profile purchases of subsequent Gold Cup and Queen's Vase winners Courage Mon Ami (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and Gregory (GB) (Golden Horn {GB}). It was revealed in TDN that the Emir of Qatar was behind the new name on the scene, and it is one of which we have heard plenty in the intervening 12 months.

Since then, the operation's bloodstock agent Richard Brown has been busy both at public auctions and in conducting private sales on Wathnan's behalf. He swooped to buy the Listed winner and Classic prospect Fast Tracker (GB) (Churchill {Ire}) who subsequently disappointed in Sunday's Prix du Jockey Club, and Brown revealed on Wednesday on the Nick Luck Daily podcast that he has also bought the Richard Hannon-trained Haatem (Ire) (Phoenix Of Spain {Ire}), placed in the 2,000 Guineas in both England and Ireland this season for Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Alsabah, and the Irish Oaks prospect Lope De Lilas (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), trained by Willie Mullins. Further recent purchase include the 111-rated sprinter Shartash (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and the Bronte Collection's smart juvenile Shadow Army (GB) (Showcasing {GB}), based with trainers Archie Watson and Richard Fahey respectively and both bound for Ascot.

At the spring breeze-up sales, Brown was one of the biggest spenders for various clients, and Wathnan Racing has already reaped some of the rewards from those purchases, with juveniles Aesterius (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}), Columnist (GB) (Ardad {Ire}), Catalyse (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) and Electrolyte (Ire) (Hello Youmzain {Fr}) all having won in the last fortnight. That quartet alone cost £1.07 million at the Goffs UK Breeze-up Sale. Entries for the owner this week include another five two-year-olds bought for just shy of £1.5 million. The statement of intent is clear, and we can expect to see those colours made famous by Germany's Gestut Rottgen featuring in plenty of races throughout the week at this year's royal meeting.

“Hopefully we have assembled a team of horses who can go there [to Royal Ascot] and have chances,” Brown told Luck. “Haatem is obviously one of them. He almost certainly won't run in the St James's Palace we're probably going to run him in the Jersey [Stakes]. This is a tough horse he's come up against the two best milers around and he got closer in Ireland than he did at Newmarket. I think we just felt that in Ireland he showed plenty of speed. He will have a three-pound penalty for his Craven win but we think that the stiff seven [furlongs] at Ascot could be right up his alley.”

James Doyle left his position with Godolphin last October to take up his new role as retained jockey for Wathnan Racing, and it is easy to start to draw parallels between Qatar's new major player and the growth of the Dubaian ruler Sheikh Mohammed Al Makotum's Godolphin operation from the early 1980s into one of the sport's global superpowers.

Brown, one of three founding members of the Blandford Bloodstock agency along with Tom Goff and the late Joss Collins, was recruited by Wathnan Racing's advisor Olly Tait as agent last year. Blandford Bloodstock was the leading buyer this year at the Goffs UK, Arqana, and Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-up sales, with a more modest outlay at the Tattersalls Craven Sale. Of the 27 two-year-olds bought at those four sales for an equivalent of £5,673,000, 11 were signed up for Wathnan Racing.

Brown said on Nicky Luck Daily, “We bought about 15 yearlings last year. They were much more the Kingmans, the Frankels more backward three-year-old types. We thought, when strategising over the winter, to go into the breeze-up market and to buy sharper types of horses would be a good way of keeping the momentum rolling.

“The four that have won, the plan is for them to go to Ascot as long as everything is okay. Aesterius won at Bath and will go either Norfolk or Windsor Castle. Columnist, who won at Chester over six, will go to the Coventry. Catalyse won at Hamilton, looking quite stylish, and he'll go to the Coventry and Electrolyte will also go to the Coventry.”

A further development for Wathnan Racing was revealed in early April with the announcement that Qatar's champion trainer Hamad Al-Jehani would be based in Newmarket through the summer, initially with a small team of horses at the bottom yard of Tom and Jackie Clover's Kremlin House Stables. Al-Jehani had his first three runners last week, at Leicester and Epsom, with Beshtani (Fr) being beaten just a nose in second on Oaks day.

Brown said of the trainer, “At the moment he's got the five or six horses who have been brought over from Qatar. He's made a tremendous start, actually.

“[Beshtani] will go for the Royal Hunt Cup and then there is Make Me King, who brings some very good form, and he will go for the Buckingham Palace or the Hunt Cup as well.”

Along with Al-Jehani's team, Wathnan Racing has had runners from 12 different British and Irish stables this season, with Tom Clover having retained Rogue Lightning (Ire), who was bought for £1 million at the Goffs sale at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions' Day. Another seven trainers in France have sent out runners for Wathnan Racing this year, including Carlos and Yann Lerner, who saddled Jasna's Secret (Fr) (Galiway {GB}) to win the Listed Prix Marchand d'Or on a memorable Sunday for their stable following the Classic success of Look De Vega (Fr) (Lope De Vega {Ire}). The latter is not owned by Wathan Racing – yet.

The operation will be without Courage Mon Ami at Ascot this year after the stayer suffered a training setback, and Group 1 runner-up Remarquee (GB) (Kingman {GB}), an in-training purchase last year, is also sidelined, but Gregory is reported to be on course for the Gold Cup.


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