Lindsay Park will break new ground at Sandown when they saddle the first Australian runner for Al Shaqab Racing.
French-bred gelding Al Haram will wear Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamed Bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Al Shaqab Racing colours when he runs in the Ladbrokes Handicap (1800m) on Saturday.
Al Shaqab Racing has become a big player in European racing in a short period of time and includes Treve, winner of successive Prix de L’Arc de Triomphes at Longchamp, among their growing list of big race victories.
Al Haram had seven starts for Elie Lellouche in France, winning over 2100m at St Cloud in March last year but has not raced since November 2016 when midfield at Lyon.
Junior Lindsay Park co-trainer Ben Hayes is looking forward to seeing Al Haram step out for the first time after being given a slow and steady build-up.
He said the spring was never a consideration for the gelding because of his rating of 84.
“He hasn’t started under 1800 metres before so because of that we’ve got him quite fit to start off,” Hayes said.
“We’ve tried to get a bit of speed into him but he looks like a real stayer and the further the better for him.
“We never thought about rushing him. We wanted to give him the time and to take him through his grades but hopefully he can run well on Saturday and then we can get him out to his distance.”
Hayes said the Bagot Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on New Year’s day could be something the stable looks at with Al Harem, but first off they want to see how he performs on Saturday.
“He’s shown us he’s got ability,” Hayes said.
“Early days he was a bit one-paced but since we’ve lengthened out his work he’s sharpened up a bit.
“The 1800 on the big track, he’ll run well.”
The prospects of a wet Sandown on Saturday should not be a problem for Al Haram who has been placed on slow ground.
Al Haram is rated an $18 chance for his Australian debut with the Darren Weir-trained Night’s Watch the $2.20 favourite.