It was a case of sweet revenge for Jim Crowley as Hukum stormed to an impressive success in the Dahlbury Coronation Cup at Epsom.
Crowley had to settle for a silver medal on Al Aasy 12 months ago, but there was no doubt he would be picking up gold this time around as Hukum (11-4) powered clear of defending champion Pyledriver in the closing stages.
It was last year’s winner who was sent to the front early into the contest by Frankie Dettori, but he was quickly shadowed by Crowley aboard Hukum and the duo cruised to the lead as Dettori started to get serious on the 2-1 favourite around the two-furlong pole.
Hukum was soon in the clear and the closing stages were just a formality as the five-year-old galloped to the line to provide trainer Owen Burrows with his first Group One victory.
Crowley said: “He’s always threatened to do that, if you remember what he did at Ascot last year in the Cumberland Lodge, he absolutely demolished them.
“He’s always been there, he was unlucky in the Sheema Classic I felt, finishing seventh but beaten less than two lengths. Coming here today I was confident he’d go close. He’s won over a mile and five furlongs so I didn’t want a sprint. When I saw Frankie go, I had to make the decision to go and after that he was a great ride.”
Burrows said: “He won his Group Two in Dubai and then probably ran a career-best in the Sheema Classic. He was drawn wide that day, they didn’t go quick and he was only beaten a little over a length and a half so I was relatively pleased.
“I always thought he might win a Group One, he looked progressive there so we’ll have to see where we go next.
“A bit of juice is important, but he’s pretty versatile. He’s in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, he’s in a German Group One, he’s in the Irish St Leger and then we possibly thought Canada. I thought we might have to travel to win one, but we might have to rethink that now.
“The King George is the obvious one, but we’ll have to see what the ground is like. He’s not in the Arc but it was a conversation, we did debate it. It will have to be an option and he’s in that division now.”
Of Pyledriver, trainer William Muir said: “He has run a tremendous race. Have we ever made the running? No. But he lobbed along and we can’t have any qualms about that. But turning in, I’m thinking, ‘Hukum is cantering’, and Hukum was better than us today.
“We have beaten him the last twice we have met him and he has beaten us today. There is not a great deal between us. We have run great, but Hukum was on his day and well done to Owen.
“I thought he was slightly lame coming back in, but Frankie said, ‘no, no, he is all right’.
“We had not discussed making the running. They were going pretty steady, so it was no surprise. I would not make that an excuse. Frankie has dictated his own fractions and they were not going very fast. So, you wanted to be to the fore and the first two were in the first two all the way around. It was just on the day that Hukum had a bit more in the tank than we did.
“He was in the same form as last year and looked absolutely fabulous.
“We will go to the King George and go straight there. He is in the Hardwicke, but after that and a long break, I think King George.”
Manobo was fourth for Charlie Appleby, who said: “William (Buick) said he rode like a two-mile horse over a mile and a half there. It is disappointing, because we will have to look at going back up in trip again now.
“All day long I have said he looks like a mile-and-a-half horse with his pace and the way he travelled, but he looked laboured at the top of the hill. I said to William that maybe on a quicker surface it would suit him, as you know what those bigger horses are like – sometimes they sink in that slower ground, although it is not slower ground. It has a bit of juice in there.
“We will be going back up in trip and we’ll have to look at the programme book. I thought this horse might be a horse who could go to Germany for some mile-and-a-half races, but on this evidence, we might be punching a little bit high with Group One mile-and-a-half races there.
“We’ll see how he comes out of it, but there are no immediate plans.”