Victory in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on the unbeaten son of Invincible Spirit would be especially poignant following the death of owner-breeder Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum in March.
Mutasaabeq will carry the colours of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate Company in the mile prize after the Charlie Hills-trained colt was supplemented for the first Classic of 2021.
He was thrust into Guineas contention after backing up his debut victory over seven furlongs at Newmarket in October with an impressive win at the track last month.
And Classic success would cap Crowley’s career after spending his formative years riding over jumps for Yorkshire racing legends Sue and Harvey Smith before switching to the Flat. Crowley, 42, said: “Of course I would love to win a Classic and if it happens it happens. If it doesn’t I’m not going lose sleep over it, although this would be a poignant win.
“I would be more pleased to win the race for Sheikh Hamdan’s family, Shadwell Estate, Charlie Hills and for the horse rather than myself.
“It is very sad that Sheikh Hamdan is no longer with us but he has left a huge legacy behind and he has bred some wonderful racehorses.
“Sheikh Hamdan has done so much for racing and he will never be forgotten. It has been great riding in these silks and hopefully the colours will continue to have success.”
Although Mutasaabeq surprised many with the imposing manner of his six-length comeback win, former champion jockey Crowley already had the impression that he was capable of putting up such a performance.
He added: “I didn’t ride him too much last year but just before he won this year I rode him at home and I was very impressed.
“I like the way he galloped out of the dip and up the hill the other day and the way he put the race to bed very quickly.
“He has only had two runs and we still don’t really know how good he is but he is bred to win a Guineas being out of Ghanaati.
“It’s a tough race as you would expect but he is doing everything right at home and he seems to have come forward for his last run.”
Despite Mutasaabeq’s relative inexperience, Crowley believes his mount will have plenty in his favour and should have no problem stepping up to a mile for the first time.
He added: “Although he is the least exposed runner in the race it is a big plus that both of his runs have been on the Rowley Mile.
“When he won the first time there it was heavy and the ground was very quick last time. As he won on soft ground there first time I didn’t know what to expect and I was surprised how well he handled the ground, but that is the sign of a good horse as they handle any ground. He should get the mile – you never know until they try but the way he galloped out last time would leave you with plenty of encouragement.”
Meanwhile, Tom Marquand hopes Sacred can give him a “dream start” to the season and win tomorrow’s Qipco 1000 Guineas for fillies.
Having steered the Joseph O’Brien-trained Galileo Chrome to glory in the St Leger at Doncaster last year, the 23-year-old rider will bid to secure the second Classic of his career.
These are exciting times for Marquand who has recently returned from Australia where he won a second successive Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the William Haggas-trained Addeybb.
The jockey’s fifth Group One win, it was also his first in front of a crowd – such is the measure of the progress of Marquand who now has his sights set on becoming champion jockey.
The title race begins this weekend and Marquand will be hoping his association with Yorkshire-born Haggas pays off in terms of both quality – and quantity – when it comes to winners.
Marquand was impressed by how Sacred made a winning reappearance in Newmarket’s Nell Gwyn Stakes and the significance of this weekend’s racing is not lost on him. “There are five Classics a year and they are stuck in the base of British racing. Everyone remembers the greats that win them – the jockeys, owners, trainers and the horses,” he ventured.
“Most people have it in their vision that you want to win a Guineas to start the season off well as it can be a platform to jumping into a big season. They are what British racing is about. (Sacred) was competitive in every assignment last year and finished second three times at Group Two level. William and the team are really happy with her.”
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