Ektihaam the one to beat in Huxley Stakes
Ektihaam looks to have everything in his favour to make a winning reappearance in the Group 3 Huxley Stakes at Chester this afternoon (2.15).
Trained by Roger Varian, the gelding has some top class form to his name last season.
The son of Invincible Spirit finished an excellent close up third to Al Kazeem in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown, before running out the wide margin winner of a Listed contest at Ascot.
Ektihaam made all that day at a strong pace , after increasing the tempo from halfway stayed on powerfully to slam Thomas Chippendale by six lengths.
It was a hugely impressive success, and one which saw Ektihaaam sent off the 9/4 favourite for the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Everything looked to be going to plan in the contest, with Ektihaam quickly taking control at the head of affairs and travelling well in a clear lead.
However, disaster then struck when he slipped up on the bend and unseated jockey Paul Hanagan at the 7f marker.
It’s impossible to say whether Ektihaam would have won, but given that Thomas Chippendale, who he had beaten senseless at Newmarket, went on to land the spoils it’s highly likely he would have.
Ektihaam then went off far too quick for his own good when last seen in action in the Group 1 King George at Ascot and trailing in last, but now takes a marked drop in class on his return to action.
This Group 3 contest represents an excellent chance for him to get back to winning ways, and his proven ability to handle cut in the ground is a major plus.
Ektihaam’s run style is also going to make him extremely hard to peg back on this track if allowed his own way up front, and his stable have already struck at the meeting with Anipa in the Cheshire Oaks.
The main dangers, according to the market, are Noble Mission and Telescope.
The former is trained by Lady Cecil and is a quirky but highly talented performer on his day.
The son of Galileo has often been out battled in a finish, but slammed Telescope by nine lengths in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown last time out when new front running tactics were employed.
The big question this afternoon is whether the five-year-old will be able to put in a similar display, as with Ektihaam in the line-up he will struggle to boss proceedings at the head of affairs.
I do, however, expect him to run a huge race and confirm his superiority over Telescope.
Sir Michael Stoute’s colt has always had a huge reputation but has not really lived up to it on the track.
The son of Galileo did land the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last season, but that contest was over 1m 4f and looked a weak renewal.
I am not convinced that Telescope has the tactical speed for this contest, and Ektihaam has by far the stronger form in the book.