Sands of Mali lined up for repeat success in Qipco Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot

Malton-based trainer Richard Fahey. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Malton-based trainer Richard Fahey. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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Sands Of Mali is being prepared to repeat last year’s victory in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot next month after being absent since the Royal meeting there.

Trainer Richard Fahey reported the four-year-old to have recovered from the soreness he suffered when well beaten in the King’s Stand Stakes in June.

FLUID PLANS: Trainer Nicky Henderson. Picture: Simon Galloway/PA

FLUID PLANS: Trainer Nicky Henderson. Picture: Simon Galloway/PA

The Malton trainer believes his top-class sprinter can put that setback behind him this autumn.

“He came back from Ascot a bit sore, but he’s grand now and back full in training,” said Fahey.

“The race at Ascot will be his target. I’m sure he’ll come back.”

Space Traveller, winner of the Jersey Stakes, is on course to go on a journey to Ireland for the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes on Saturday week.

He came back from Ascot a bit sore, but he’s grand now and back full in training. The race at Ascot will be his target. I’m sure he’ll come back.

Trainer Richard Fahey on Sands of Mali

Connections are keen to head for the Group Two over a mile at Leopardstown, as the race is sponsored by Space Traveller’s owner, the Leeds businessman Steve Parkin, under his Clipper Logistics banner.

“We’re happy with him. He’s in the Boomerang and if the ground is not too soft he’ll probably go there. “Steve sponsors the race,” said Fahey.

Paul Nicholls, meanwhile, would relish a clash between Cyrname and Altior in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in November.

The Nicholls-trained Cyrname ended last season as the highest-rated horse in Britain following his 17-length demolition job in the Ascot Chase in February, with his mark of 176 putting him 1lb clear of Nicky Henderson’s dual Champion Chase hero Altior, who is unbeaten in 19 starts over jumps.

Henderson has raised the possibility of Altior being stepped up in trip this term – with a tilt at the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day a potential target – and Cyrname is also bound for the festive showpiece over three miles.

However, the pair could first lock horns in a two-mile-five-furlong Grade Two at Ascot on November 23.

Nicholls said: “One has got form over two (miles) in Altior and this horse has form over two-five. It will be some clash if they meet at Ascot.

“He (Cyrname) doesn’t have to run from the front, but it suits him doing that. Kempton can be a front-runners track if you jump and gallop and he is slightly better right-handed.

“He is a high-class horse who will hopefully keep going forward, (but) he has got to get three miles yet.

“It’s a bit like Altior – it’s great being able to gallop and get two-mile-five and he (Cyrname) suggested at Ascot he will get three, but until they actually do it you don’t know for sure.”

Altior is the general 3-1 favourite for the King George, with Cyrname and his stablemate Clan Des Obeaux – winner of the Boxing Day highlight last season – next in the list at 6-1.

Henderson, however, has warned plans for Altior are very much fluid.

Writing in his blog for Unibet, the Seven Barrows trainer said: “Nothing is set in stone as to what he is going to do. After a brief chat with Patricia Pugh (owner, on Sunday) we will all sit down again in the near future and make a decision as to which route we take.

“We all know how good Altior is at two miles – you could say if we are the best at one thing, why change it?

“I think he’s looking for another half-mile in which case we have to start thinking about is the King George where we want to go? I have a huge amount of respect for Cyrname and I’m not afraid to take him on with Altior.

“But it is by no means certain that they will meet in the Ascot Chase as many have suggested.”