Khaadem keeps up King George domination for Charlie Hills
Khaadem once again showed his liking for Goodwood when holding off the late challenge of Raasel in the King George Qatar Stakes.
Winner of the Stewards’ Cup back in 2019, he had generally struggled upped in company ever since although he did win the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket last time out.
Trained by Charlie Hills – who won this Group Two for four successive years with the brilliant Battaash between 2017-2020 – the six-year-old rewarded punters at 8-1.
The pace was a rapid one set by Frankie Dettori on the Czech raider Ponntos, but his stride began to shorten with a furlong to run.
Ryan Moore – riding the winner for the first time – brought his mount through horses and hit the front with a furlong to run and while Raasel finished with a late rattle, as is his style, he could not catch Khaadem who held on by a neck.
Hills was able to give a far happier debrief than the one that followed an unfortunate incident at Royal Ascot.
He said: “In the King’s Stand he obviously came out (of the stalls) without a jockey, he lost his hind end and Jamie (Spener) wasn’t on him properly and he made up some serious ground even without a jockey to finish next to Nature Strip.
“It’s always been the plan to come here, we thought the track would suit him as he’s been here before in the Stewards’ Cup. He’s getting faster with age and today he was so relaxed, which isn’t like him. I said to Ryan that he was held up when he won the Stewards’ Cup so ride him as you want, he’s won a couple of times making all but he doesn’t have to be ridden that way.
“He gave him a peach of a ride, when the race unfolded he came down the far rail but that opened it up. He likes a bit of space in his races and he’s a good horse, he’s a very good horse with a lot of speed.
“Ryan was very positive when he got off, that’s where we have to look now (Group Ones), whether it’s the Nunthorpe or wherever it is, we’ll look at those races and if the ground is fast that will give him the best chance of winning.
“He’s growing up and sprinters take time, he had a fantastic three-year-old season and it didn’t quite work for him as a four-year-old.
“He’s just starting to put his races together which is really encouraging.
“He could keep going next year and the year after if we don’t be greedy and keep him happy.”
Of the runner-up, Chris Dixon, for Raasel’s owners The Horse Watchers, said: “We made an entry for the Flying Five (at the Curragh). He’s in the mix and we will give it a go. We must give it a go in these big races.
“We didn’t want the ground to be watered at all because he wants it rock hard. He just got unbalanced at halfway, which put him on the back foot.”
His trainer Mick Appleby added: “The ground may be overwatered for him and he likes a quicker surface. He has a run a blinder and the winner Khaadem is a very good horse, so we’re not disappointed at all.
“He’s a really nice horse and he’s definitely a Group Two horse. I’d imagine the Nunthorpe and the Flying Five now.”