Hurricane Lane will aim to complete a hat-trick of Group 1 prizes on Saturday when the Godolphin runner takes on 12 others in the St Leger, racing’s oldest classic at Doncaster Racecourse in England.
The Charlie Appleby-trained horse steps up in distance following successive victories in his last two starts, in the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris, over the mile and-a-half distance.
Hurricane Lane has won five of his six races over the mile and the mile and-a-half distances, and tackles the longer mile and three quarter trip for the first time.
Appleby is confident his three-year-old can handle the distance after coming home by six lengths in his last start at Longchamp in July.
“Obviously, it is the big question for all of them. Will they stay the extra two furlongs? In his case, I think he will,” Appleby told the Godolphin website.
“He goes into the Leger with rock solid form. He’s only been beaten once — he finished third in the Derby, and he lost two shoes. We feel there is enough evidence there to say he will stay. He is the class horse in the field.”
Appleby said it was evident that Hurricane Lane has improved significantly with each Group 1 he contested.
“After travelling to Ireland and France, he is a mentally sharper horse,” he said. “When he went to Epsom in June, he was unbeaten in three starts and relatively inexperienced. That was his undoing on the day. But what we have seen since is a much sharper model. He is mentally stronger and more mature, and he is ready for this.
“William (Buick) rode him in a good piece of work (on September 1), 10 days out from the Leger, and he was delighted. He looked great, he moved well. He’s been doing routine work since then, and he continues to please.”
Hurriane Lane's stable companion Adayar, winner of the Derby at Epsom, will miss Sunday’s Group 2 Prix Niel at Longchamp after picking up an infection in a hind leg. He now goes straight to the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 3.
“We are lucky to have two very good middle-distance horses on our hands, and if both are fit and well, we will run the pair of them in the Arc,” Appleby said. “Those discussions will take place in the weeks leading up to the Arc.”
Appleby described Adayar’s leg infection as “a minor setback".
“Adayar missed a couple of days, and after discussions, we felt there was no need to press on to a trial (for the Arc). So, the decision was made to head straight to the Arc.
“He has resumed full training, and as a Derby and King George winner, he fully deserves to be running in what is shaping up to be a vintage Arc.”
Appleby also sends the unbeaten Native Trail to the Curragh for the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes on Sunday.
“Native Trail’s prep has gone well,” he said. “It has always been the plan to progress from the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket to the National Stakes at the Curragh. It’s a well-trodden path for ourselves.”
It looks set be a milestone weekend for Godolphin as the operation closes in on the 7,000-winner mark since the racing operation was founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in 1992.
They are on 6,993 at the time of writing and is sure to reach that magical number in the coming days with plenty of runners plying their trade worldwide.