10/15/2014 2:01PM

Hannon loaded for Newmarket's Future Champions Day


Since Richard Hannon Jr. operates the leading 2-year-old outfit in England, it should come as no surprise that his stable is well represented Friday at Newmarket on Future Champions Day, the juvenile appetizer to Saturday’s QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot.

Hannon trains Ivawood, the favorite for the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, and Estidhkaar, the favorite for the Group 1 Dewhurst. He also has a second horse, Kool Kompany, for the Middle Park and the filly Marsh Hawk in the Group 1 Fillies Mile.

The going at Newmarket on Friday will be at best soft and at worst heavy, course conditions that none of the highest-rated horses have yet experienced. Hannon, speaking on his website, said Estidhkaar, at least, would have no problem with the laboring ground.

“He won the Champagne in the mud at Doncaster, so we won’t be making any excuses if we get beat, but he goes there in top form, and we are very hopeful,” Hannon said.

Owned by Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum, Estidhkaar finished second going six furlongs in his career debut but has since reeled off three straight wins, the last two in Group 2 competition, and the most recent of those a convincing score in the Champagne.

Estidhkaar appears to hold a decided edge on his six rivals, with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Smuggler’s Cove the unknown quantity. Smuggler’s Cove makes his group stakes debut Friday after a blowout listed-race win over the all-weather track at Dundalk.

Ivawood is an odds-on choice to win the six-furlong Middle Park after overmatching the opposition in his first three starts, including open-lengths wins in the Group 2 July Stakes and the Group 2 Richmond Stakes. Ivawood, though, has raced only on good or good-to-firm turf, and Hannon sounded less than certain that he would handle the wet course.

“While he won’t have encountered ground like that before, they are racing on a strip that has not been used since May, so, hopefully, he’ll cope with the conditions okay,” Hannon said on his website.

Muhaarar was no match for Ivawood in the July Stakes but won his only start on soft ground by four lengths. The conditions also should suit Group 1-placed Irish invader Cappella Sansevero.

Lucida, a Godolphin homebred trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger, is a deserving favorite in the Dubai Fillies Mile. First or second in each of her four starts, she won the Group 2 Rockfel over seven furlongs at Newmarket in her most recent start, and in her previous race, she finished a good second to the high-class filly Cursory Glance in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes.