Aljamaaheer out to continue golden June for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid at Royal Ascot

Sheikh Hamdan's horse can provide the final sparkle on a sterling run at the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday. Geoffrey Riddle reports.

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Ascot, England // This has been a golden June for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s English racing operation and Aljamaaheer could add the final sparkle in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting on Saturday.

Aljamaaheer faces 14 rivals in the Group 1 sprint over 1,200 metres, few of whom you could rely on in a full blown international sprint.

There is Gordon Lord Byron, who skipped Dubai this year to land the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill in Australia, Medicean Man, who has failed to win at the highest level at Meydan and in England, Aidan O’Brien’s promising three-year-old Due Diligence, and the best of the French brigade in Eric Libaud’s American Devil.

There are no Australian horses running for the first time since Choisir announced the strength in depth to the sprinting division down under in 2003.

Sole Power, Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes winner, will not be required to backup his run, which leaves Edward Lynam’s Slade Power as the main obstacle.

There may be no easy wins at Group 1 level, but some are easier than others.

Aljamaaheer showed last season that he is a horse of Group 1 calibre. He was third in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury behind Godolphin’s Farhh and second to Declaration Of War in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Both of those runs were over a mile, so when the five year old lined up for his first attempt at a sprint distance in April, it all happened a little too quickly for him.

Aljamaaheer was left for dead in the early stages of the Abernant Stakes but finished strongly under Paul Hanagan to take third.

It was a run that impressed Richard Hills, Sheikh Hamdan’s assistant racing manager, who has ridden Aljamaaheer both on the track and in morning work.

“It was a great ride at Newmarket because you are trying to teach a horse to settle but it is a sprint race and it is a totally different environment as you can use your speed at any time in the race and still win, whereas in a mile race in Europe you want to settle your horse so they can finish their races,” he said.

“His work after that run was fantastic, but due to soft ground he hasn’t had another run. I haven’t lost faith in this horse and I think we’ve got a really good sprinter on our hands.”

Officially, Lynam does not run Sole Power because he puts so much into his races that there is not enough left in the tank, but the suspicion must be that he is confident enough to let Slade Power do the talking for his County Meath stable in Ireland.

Sole Power’s win was added to when Anthem Alexander won the Queen Mary Stakes on Wednesday.

“Asking for three out of four winners this week might be asking a bit much, but thankfully Slade Power doesn’t know that,” Lynam said.

“Every year he gets a little better and I hope that continues. It would cap an unbelievable week if he wins.”

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