Am the one with Al only fourth
Multiple Group One winner Al Kazeem had to make do with fourth on his return to action at Newbury as Amralah clinched victory in the Doom Bar Stakes.
Al Kazeem claimed the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and Sandown's Coral-Eclipse during a stunning campaign in 2013, after which he was retired to the Royal Studs in Sandringham after being bought by the Queen.
However, after reportedly getting only around 25 mares in foal, he returned to training with Roger Charlton in May and was a heavily-supported 11/10 favourite for his competitive comeback in this Listed contest.
Trapped out wide throughout in the hands of James Doyle, the six-year-old failed to get any cover and as a result raced a little keenly from the outset.
He moved ominously towards the front end heading towards the final furlong, but began to tire close home and will doubtless improve for the outing.
The Mick Channon-trained Amralah, a 16/1 shot in the hands of Andrea Atzeni, was up with the pace from the start and had just enough in the tank to hold off the late thrust of Vancouverite by a short head, with Nabucco back in third.
Atzeni said of the winner: "He jumped good and was a little bit keen early on. There wasn't much pace, but once he got his head in front he wouldn't let anyone get by him.
"It was tight. I wasn't too sure whether I'd won or not, but luckily I did."
Channon was full of praise for the winning owner and is looking forward to having a crack at Group company in due course. The trainer said: "He's had little niggles over the years, little problems that have held us up, and we've messed around with his trip a bit from a mile and a half to a mile and a quarter.
"Everything has come right. He ran a blinder last time. People thought it was a bit of a fluke.
"I wanted to have a go at the John Smith's Cup (at York), but Prince Faisal (owner ) wanted to have a go at a Listed race, so all credit to him.
"I think he would get a mile and a half. He hasn't got many miles on the clock and hopefully we can make him into a decent Group horse for next year.
"We'll take him home and see what Prince Faisal wants to do, but he's probably got to step up to a Group Three or a Group Two."
Charlton was encouraged by the effort of Al Kazeem, saying: "I was really pleased. I thought looking at him before the race he was clearly happy and relaxed and of all the horses in the paddock he was sweating the least.
"James said he felt fantastic going to the start and he came into the race like he was going to win it and travelled up there very smoothly.
"I think, as I was suspicious of and told everybody as he's overweight, he just got tired, which is fair enough.
"I don't think one can criticise the horse. He's only been in training since the beginning of May and that race will have done him a huge amount of good.
"Where we go from here, we'll see. I was happy.
"I know he was favourite and it's disappointing for most people watching, but I don't think you can condemn the horse on that at all. He ran really well, showed all his enthusiasm and will improve."