David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Bathrat Leon is ready to face Goodwood challenges

Oisin Murphy gave the thumbs up after riding Japan’s Sussex Stakes raider in trackwork as Team Yahagi prepares for a Deauville relocation.

Yoshito Yahagi and his team are hoping Bathrat Leon will handle Goodwood’s climbing, dipping topography when he takes on the unbeaten champion Baaeed in the Sussex Stakes next week after stablemate King Hermes struggled to cope with Newmarket’s July Course undulations.

Both horses are due to ship to France on July 30, and will be prepared at Deauville racecourse for their follow-up assignments: King Hermes will tackle the Prix Maurice de Gheest and Bathrat Leon is slated for the Prix Jacques la Marois.  

Bathrat Leon will have his final Sussex Stakes prep gallop on Saturday (July 23) but the four-year-old continued his progress towards the high summer mile major with a strong piece of work under Oisin Murphy last Saturday. The Godolphin Mile winner galloped on the Al Bahathri Polytrack in company with a 93-rated sprinter from the Alice Haynes stable.

“He just went seven furlongs with an All-Weather horse called Strong Power who is more than capable of leading a Group horse,” Murphy told Asian Racing Report.  

“Kieran O’Neill rode Alice Haynes’ horse and they wanted it to be a strong piece so it was decent work. I joined in at the four and just gave him a squeeze the last furlong and a half.”


Bathrat Leon galloped on the Al Bahathri Polytrack on Saturday. (Photo by Asian Racing Report)

Bathrat Leon’s regular rider Ryusei Sakai will be back on when the four-year-old steps out on the Sussex Downs next week but before he takes the reins, he will have a close look at the track with Murphy, Britain’s champion jockey, who is currently serving a suspension until February 2023.

“I’ll walk the course with Ryusei on the Wednesday, before racing,” Murphy said. “I actually think the horse will be fine on the undulations so I have no concerns about that. The way he moves he could be in any discipline and he’s obviously taken to international travel well.

“He’s bred to be a turf horse, he won in Dubai on dirt, but he’s back on turf now and the stable says it’s important that mentally this horse is happy and he seems to have travelled and taken everything well so hopefully he’ll run a big one for them.”

Murphy acknowledged the strong field Bathrat Leon is likely to face in the Sussex Stakes.

“Baeed deserves to be long-odds on from what we’ve seen of him,” he said. “It’s interesting that Alcohol Free goes there as well, back up to a mile. And the race is full of strength in depth, Order Of Australia won at the weekend at the Curragh, but this fellow is the most likely pace angle other than Order Of Australia.”

Jockey Oisin Murphy at York races in May. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Overseeing Yahagi’s team on the ground in Newmarket – based at Roger Varian’s Carlburg Stables – is his assistant trainer Yukihiko Araki and he expressed satisfaction with Bathrat Leon.

“No complaints,” he said. “We are very satisfied with him and we’re really looking forward to the Sussex Stakes. We hope he can adapt to Goodwood and the undulations, that’s the key, how well he can adapt. But his condition, he’s in really great shape.”

King Hermes failed to make that adjustment when 11th of 13 behind last year’s Sussex Stakes heroine Alcohol Free in the July Cup.

“King Hermes could not adapt to the undulations, especially down the hill,” continued Araki. “You don’t know until you try, we gave him a gallop there but racing is different. He came back happy and sound so we can look to France now with him and we’re happy about that.”

Yahagi will be back in England for the Sussex Stakes and intends to be on the scene when King Hermes has his next gallop in Newmarket on July 26 – the same day Bathrat Leon will arrive at Goodwood – before the departure for France.



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