Kia Joorabchian is no stranger to success in the football boardroom, but the man who helped bring Carlos Tevez to the Premier League could be about to make his mark on horse racing’s biggest stage as his Amo Racing venture bids to find the back of the Royal Ascot net for the first time.
Joorabchian’s passionate pursuit of success on the racecourse is bearing fruit this season with a plethora of his big-money buys proving worthy of their price-tag on track.
Amo Racing invested heavily in juvenile stock at both last year’s yearling sales and at the early-season breeze-ups and have been rewarded with an enviable squad of youngsters who will take to the pitch at Royal Ascot.
Two-year-olds Persian Force, Walbank, Omniqueen and Queen Olly are all towards the top of the betting for their respective Royal Ascot targets, with Amo having a wealth of options in the juvenile contests.
“Keeping (horses) separate to a degree is good but there is only one Royal Ascot, so if we end up having more than one juvenile in the two-year-old races then that might be an inevitability,” said Emily Scott, racing manager for Amo Racing, when asked how they plan to shuffle the Ascot pack.
“If they have proven themselves worthy of running, I don’t think it is fair to hold them back, even if it means having a couple in each race. There’s also then more chance of winning of course.”
One of the most precocious of Amo’s two-year-olds is Persian Force, who was out on track on the first day of the Flat turf season to land the Brocklesby in impressive fashion and his trainer Richard Hannon has not been shy in comparing him to the yard’s former star Canford Cliffs.
Canford Cliffs won the Coventry Stakes in 2009 and that is the most likely destination for the unbeaten son of Mehmas, who made it two from two at Newbury last time out.
“The manner in which Persian Force won the Brockelsby was pretty amazing and he backed that up well at Newbury by showing he got six furlongs. So, it is looking like the Coventry could be an option for him which is exciting,” said Scott.
Persian Force is disputing favouritism at a general 7-2 for the opening two-year-old race of the meeting, while another Amo Racing-owned colt to impress on track is Walbank, with the 525,000 guineas buy off the mark at the second attempt at York and set to stay over the minimum trip for now.
Scott continued: “He did the business second time at York and I think speed is his main weapon and it could be that he stays at five furlongs for Royal Ascot and goes for something like the Norfolk.
“Both Persian Force and Walbank have the attributes you need to be a good racehorse and it is really encouraging to see them do it on track when you’ve seen what they can do at home.”
Walbank is housed at David Loughnane’s Helshaw Grange stables with the young Irishman becoming one of Amo’s go-to trainers over the past 12 months.
Having come close to opening Amo’s Ascot account with Go Bears Go at last year’s Royal meeting, he could hold plenty of aces in 2022, with talented fillies Queen Olly and Omniqueen set to make the first-team line-up for the summer showpiece.
Queen Olly burst onto the scene at York and Scott explained just why the daughter of No Nay Never made such a big impression on the Knavesmire.
She said: “There were so many reasons to be impressed with that run. Mainly, it just looked like she was hacking along when the rest of them were going as quick as they could. She was able to cruise at a high speed very easily.
“The other thing was that she had to barge her way through a gap that didn’t look to be there, which I think is always a sign of a good horse because it means they have lots left in the tank.
“Then the way she went clear in the final half-furlong was great to see. The length of stride she has is amazing and so far, her mind is A1, which is so important if you’re going to be looking at Ascot with a two-year-old as they need to be very mentally stable as well as having the physical ability.
“She seems to have all the right attributes and I would say the Albany is likely at this stage.”
If Queen Olly is set to reign at six furlongs, then Omniqueen could be the answer to Amo’s five-furlong prayers.
Sent off at 11-4 on debut at Ascot, she made every single yard to record a professional victory and can be backed at 10-1 for a red-hot edition of the Queen Mary.
“That race was an interesting one as everyone came there with high opinions of their horses. You can get a feel in the paddock and I think everyone had high expectations, so there was no real confidence she would do what she did that day,” explained Scott.
“But she was a bullet from the stalls and straight as a die while everything else around her looked green and went the shortest route straight up the track and never saw another horse.
“She’s clearly got loads of ability and there are plenty of options for her. She’s got entries in Ireland, but Ascot is before that and we’ll keep her in everything. She couldn’t have done much more on debut and hopefully the sky is the limit for her.”