|Alainmaar team go for Hardwicke Stakes option|
If patience is indeed a virtue then connections of the fragile but highly talented Alainmaar are amongst the most virtuous in the racing industry. Roger Varian's five-year-old has overcome a catalogue of training setbacks and is now being targeted at the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 18, writes Elliot Slater.
A crack at the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes had also been an option for the five-year-old Johar gelding, but Angus Gold, racing manager to Alainmaar's owner Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, reports that all concerned with the middle-distance performer prefer his first attempt in pattern race company to come at Group 2 level. Many punters will be focusing on the Epsom Oaks betting, but Alainmaar may be worth keeping an eye on.
A winner of five of his six career starts over a three year period, Alainmaar had been hit by training setbacks before making his belated debut in the August of his three-year-old season, suffering his only defeat when finishing second in a Newmarket maiden on his first racecourse appearance. He went on to win his next two outings that season before reappearing last year to win the competitive City & Suburban Handicap at Epsom last April, giving 21bs and a beating to the useful handicapper Hanoverian Baron. A cosy odds-on success in a Lingfield conditions event hinted at much better things to come, but he again suffered a training setback and wasn't seen again for the rest of the term. No doubt those looking at the Royal Ascot betting will have serious concerns about backing him.
Varian's charge made a spectacular return to action at Ascot last month when slamming a decent field in the listed Buckhound Stakes, running out a six-length winner from the useful 105-rated Shamali and proving that he certainly has a serious enough engine to be worth a place in the Hardwicke Stakes line-up and a chance to prove himself in the big league.