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Maarek gears up to defend his Sprint crown

6 Oct 2013

Maarek has sprung to life in the autumn, winning a Group 3 at Newbury and today a Group 1 at Longchamp, the Prix de l'Abbaye, setting himself up perfectly to defend his crown in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot on 19 October.

Maarek (nearside) just gets the better of Catcall in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp this afternoon. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Maarek won last year’s QIPCO British Champions Sprint in tenacious style, relishing the soft ground at Ascot that day, and has set himself up perfectly for another crack at the same race after tasting Group 1 glory at Longchamp this afternoon.

He came fast and late to collar the French-trained Catcall in the shadow of the post in the five-furlong Prix de l’Abbaye, with the Kevin Ryan-trained Hamza in third, the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes winner, Jwala, in fourth, Reckless Abandon in fifth and Sole Power sixth.

Reckless Abandon, who would be likely to appreciate the six furlongs of the QIPCO British Champions Sprint, race two on the QIPCO British Champions Day card at Ascot on Saturday 19 October, may also renew rivalry with Maarek then.

Winning rider, Declan McDonigh, said: "They went very fast but he is very, very game and he loves soft ground so he just comes into his own in the last 100 metres.

"The team have done an amazing job. He will go to Ascot with a great chance."

The Prix de l’Abbaye may be a Group 1 race, but it only offered £162,000 to the winning horse whereas the winner of the QIPCO British Champions Sprint, a Group 2 contest but with no penalties for Group 1 winners, will collect almost £200,000.