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Article 12th July 2023 Newmarket

By Ben Cox

Julie Camacho and her husband and assistant trainer Steve Brown are looking forward to stable star Shaquille attempting to add another Group One victory to his CV in the Group One Pertemps Network July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday (July 15th), day three of the Boodles July Festival. The three year old Charm Spirit colt is currently trading as a general 7-4 favourite for the £600,000 six-furlong contest, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.       

Shaquille handed his stable in Norton, North Yorkshire, its first Group One success last time out in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on June 23rd, when he overcame a tardy start to defeat Little Big Bear by a length and a quarter.

Speaking on a Zoom call organised by The Jockey Club today, Julie Camacho said: “Shaquille seems to be in great form and has come out of Royal Ascot well. We turned him out for three or four days and he started to get a bit fresh. He cantered on the Wednesday after Royal Ascot and he did a nice piece of work last Saturday and everything seems to be good.”

Steve Brown added: “He will have a final check over today as Wednesday is vets’ and physios’ day but he looks in great shape and we’re very happy with him. I think he looks physically better than he did at Ascot – he has strengthened again.”

Saturday’s contest will be the first time Shaquille takes on older horses but this is not something Brown is overly worried about.

He continued: “I wouldn’t say it’s a concern and it’s the next logical step for him to take on older horses. Obviously, he gets an allowance and is a big, strong colt. Physically, for all he will be probably be a nicer horse next year, he is a big strong fella who holds condition well.

“We are relaxed about it. At home we felt this was the next step after Ascot and we’ll see how it all works out.”

To have a first Group One winner has been a great source of pride for the yard and to now be starting favourite for the Pertemps Network July Cup is something Brown admits brings a certain level of pressure – albeit one he admits is a nice position to be in.

He said: “It’s a great feeling. Jules was saying yesterday when we were coming down to Newmarket how many good wishes we’ve had since Royal Ascot and how pleased people are for us as we are small to medium-sized training operation. People have been so kind and that’s been such a nice surprise.

“We are looking forward to Saturday. It will be a different sort of pressure as it looks like we are going to start favourite, whereas at Ascot Little Big Bear was a short-priced favourite and we went there slightly under the radar. So it’s different from that perspective but you’ve got to deal with it and what a lovely position to be and what a great position to be in – to have a favourite for a Group One race.

“To win any Group One is amazing and the July Cup carries a lot of heritage and history with it. Some great horses have won it in the past who have gone on to make good stallions. The main thing for us is to get him there in A1 so he can be at his absolute best.

“We love it when these good horses show up and show their best – I think the Eclipse last Saturday was the best four-runner race I’ve seen in my life, it was fantastic. It’s exciting and we are still at the stage of what could and what might be with this horse.”

One thing which has still to be resolved is who will ride Shaquille but that is not an issue connections are too concerned about.

Brown continued: “There has been lots of interest from people interested in riding him! We are obviously waiting to see who is available. Oisin (Murphy) wasn’t booked until 9.50am on Thursday morning when he won on him at Royal Ascot and Martin (Hughes, joint-owner alongside Michael Kerr-Dineen) is quite relaxed about waiting until Thursday morning and seeing who is available.

“Martin used to have horses based in the south in the past and has dealt with a lot of jockeys, so he said we’ll have a conversation on Thursday morning after we have seen who has been declared. It has always been a bit of a topic of conversation with this horse as he has run seven times and had four different jockeys but the guys have managed that well and hopefully it will be the same on Saturday.”

Despite being a headstrong individual when seen on course, Shaquille is a completely different character at home.

Julie Camacho added: “He’s lovely at home. Everybody sees him at the races and they think he’s this big, ignorant, horrible animal but he’s not! Paige Harrison who looks after him at home and rides him at home says he’d be quite happy to just walk up the six-furlong gallop, he just lobs along.”

Steve Brown added: “He is a horse who prefers to lead in his work. If you ask him to join a decent horse, he might not get there. He is relaxed and laid back. When he leads in his work he is a different beast – he likes horses joining him. His work is good but not exciting and we have two or three horses at home that work better than him but that’s always been his way. As Jules said, he is a lovely character and a kind colt. He loves being turned out in the paddock and has great recall when you go to get him in. He is a lovely fella to be around.

“At the races I tend to lead him as I am physically bigger, stronger and definitely heavier than Paige. Each time he has raced he’s got better. We were concerned how he would handle Royal Ascot but when he first stepped on the track he hadn’t put a foot wrong and he hadn’t broken sweat which I was really pleased about to the point that when Oisin hacked away I was actually worried he was too quiet but that didn’t reflect in his performance. We just hope he is maturing as we are going along. It has been a steady progression in the right direction with him and hopefully that will continue on Saturday.”

Despite missing the break in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, Brown feels this was a one off and that there were extenuating circumstances.

He concluded: “Ascot was the first time he has started slowly in his life. He was first to load and had been sitting there a long time so got a little bit impatient. When he jumped out slowly he lost ground but the way the race was run at Ascot it worked out. The way I think the race will be run on Saturday, you might to race quite handily and he doesn’t want to be missing the break. He can lead if he has to and is a real six and a half-furlong horse who really lengthens well.”


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