By Jon Lees
GB: Qipco British Champions Sprint winner Glen Shiel will bypass the Hong Kong International Races and instead stay at home to prepare for a traditional European campaign in 2021.
The six-year-old gelding, who carried Hollie Doyle to her first G1 success last month, was one of three British-trained nominees for the Longines Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin on December 13.
But his owners Hambleton Racing and trainer Archie Watson have declined the invitation in favour of a winter break ahead of the next Flat turf season when they think there could be more improvement to come.
Glen Shiel began his season in handicaps and ended it winning the G3 Phoenix Sprint, finishing second in the G1 Betfair Sprint Cup before defeating Brando at Ascot on British Champions Day, becoming his owners’ first top-level winner.
“It’s been a fabulous year, we’ve had some great luck,” said Hambleton Racing’s Simon Turner. “To get a winner at G1 level was tremendous. Being by Pivotal there is at least a chance Glen Shiel can be a fraction better next year.
“It does seem a definite trend that his progeny thrive as they get older,” he went on. “He’s not got a huge amount of miles on the clock. He’s just having a well-earned rest at the minute, but hopefully he will be back to prove this year wasn’t a fluke next year.”
Glen Shiel began his career with Andre Fabre and joined Watson in Lambourn after changing hands for £45,000. Last season he ran over trips of between 1m and 1m2f.
“He arrived with us as a miler who might stretch a little bit beyond a mile,” said Turner. “He had been in a pretty good hotel with Andre Fabre and his form was quite well established. He was placed in the Balmoral Handicap at a mile last year.
“He just showed Archie a lot of speed and he dropped him down in trip,” added Turner. “As soon as he did that he never looked back. He has relished it and seems to have got quicker.
“He also loves getting his toe in so we knew that if he got that type of ground at Haydock and Ascot, there was a good chance he would step forward.
”Hollie gave him an outstanding ride at Ascot but I don’t think his success is just down to Hollie. It’s an outstanding training achievement by Archie to take a horse where he came from and have him win at G1 level. I can’t think there would be many better training achievements in 2020.”
Turner said Glen Shiel may start at Royal Ascot on a schedule that could also incorporate a trip to Deauville plus return visits to Haydock and Ascot at the back end of the campaign.
Glen Shiel’s performances have helped raise the profile of Yorkshire-based Hambleton Racing, which has 35 Flat and jumps horses in training – each owned by syndicates of 12 or fewer with nine involved in Glen Shiel.
“We’ve always maintained that if we buy horses at a sensible level and put them with top trainers it is possible to compete at a good level and Glen Shiel proves the point,” Turner said.
“We started with Kevin Ryan just over 15 years ago and he has been key to our success with the amount of good horses he has put us on to through that period. He’s always looked after us.
“We’ve had a tremendous year right across the board with 26 winners, but we are mindful that a lot of our success is down to Kevin.”
• Visit the Hambleton Racing website