Bobby Zen

There is no doubt that one of the feel-good moments in an excellent week of action at Royal Ascot came when Isle Of Jura (GB) (New Approach {Ire}) won the G2 Hardwicke Stakes on the final day of the meeting.

Much of the joy that sprung from the result was aimed towards jockey Callum Shepherd after he had missed out on a plum ride in the Derby. But the importance of the win for the horse’s trainer, George Scott, who was enjoying a first Royal Ascot success, and his owner Shaikh Nasser Al Khalifa of Victorious Racing, should not be underestimated.

Isle Of Jura can already be considered the pride of Bahrain for having won three consecutive Cups, two of them carrying Listed status, which form a Triple Crown for the island nation which is swiftly emerging on the international racing scene. Isle Of Jura, a winner at Newbury and Newmarket last summer, arrived in Bahrain in late November and won four of his five starts through the ensuing three months, as well as being beaten just a short-head in the fifth. Following his return to Scott’s Newmarket stable he won the Listed Festival Stakes at Goodwood before launching his assault on Ascot.

“We were just unsure how the form was going to stack up on the back of Bahrain, and I was a little bit underwhelmed with him at Goodwood, but we saw a huge improvement from him at home after that and he’s clearly a horse who wants a nice, even pace on fast ground, so it all came together really,” said Scott. 

“There was a current of good feeling towards Callum winning a race like that, and obviously the Bahraini contingent, headed by Shaikh Nasser, are just very good people. They love their racing, and he is a very special horse in their eyes. He’s won all he can in their country and now he’s come to Ascot and won like that. Shaikh Duaij said to me on the day, ‘You’ve made Bahrain proud today’, which is a lovely thing to say. 

“I think [Isle Of Jura] has been the best advertisement for Bahrain racing, and for the Bahrain contingency involved in British racing. They really want to promote racing in Bahrain and to improve the quality there, and I think this horse helps their argument.”

The four-year-old gelding, who is a full-brother to Godolphin’s four-time Australian Group 1 winner Cascadian (GB), will take a deserved step up into the top echelon himself for his next run, which looks set to be in the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot on July 27.

“The logical step for him is the King George,” Scott continued. “He’s obviously a course-and-distance winner and he’ll carry a Group 2 penalty now but it is the obvious race for him. We are under no illusions that he is going to have to step forward again but I think that he will be going into a race like that with plenty of respect.

“He has come out of the race really well. He’s not a horse that needs much training – we’re not hard on him and he doesn’t need a lot of fast work so he’s just ticking over. He was jumping up and down like a big cat in his pen this morning.”

The trainer is also considering a further international campaign for Isle Of Jura later in the season, potentially culminating in a trip to Del Mar. He said, “He’s rated 119 now, so I think after the King George we will be working back from the Breeders’ Cup. It’s just a question of how we get there. He’s good at travelling, that’s for sure, and he does appreciate fast ground and flat tracks. I like the idea of the Sword Dancer in Saratoga maybe, but we’ll see in the King George how he stacks up against those horses and then make a plan.”

Scott, who also trains the G3 Palace House Stakes winner Seven Questions (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) for Victorious Racing and Fawzi Nass, added, “It’s really important to be competing on that stage and it was really special because Shaikh Nasser has obviously been a big part of the story in the last few years. It’s been well documented how grateful I am to him, and I had lots of friends and family at Ascot so we all watched it together, which again is a moment you don’t really get very often. It all slowed down in that last furlong and we were able to enjoy it. It was the Hardwicke at the end of the day, it wasn’t a handicap. The Hardwicke is a race you grow up watching and some of the great horses and great trainers have won that race. It was a dream.”


The post Bahrain’s Pride Isle Of Jura Heads to King George With Breeders’ Cup on Wish List  appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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