Lezoo leads Beckett duo into Princess Margaret battle

Lezoo and Palm Lily give trainer Ralph Beckett a strong hand in the curtain-raising Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

It promises to be a big day for the Kimpton Down handler, with his runaway Irish Derby winner Westover all the rage for the King George.

Beckett will be hoping to ease his nerves ahead of the midsummer showpiece in the afternoon’s opener, with dual winner Lezoo the hot favourite in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

The Bath novice and Newmarket Listed winner was narrowly beaten by Mawj in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket a fortnight ago and should prove hard to beat if in the same form this weekend.

Jamie McCalmont, bloodstock agent and racing manager to Lezoo’s part-owner Marc Chan, said: “I felt she was a bit unlucky at Newmarket.

“This is her fourth race in eight weeks, which is asking any horse to do a lot, but she’s fired in her other three races and is a little bit unlucky not to be unbeaten.

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“She deserves to be favourite, but as we all know it doesn’t always work like that.

“Ralph wouldn’t be running her if he wasn’t happy with her. He says she’s got a great mind and doesn’t lose any weight when she runs, but there’s only so many times you can go to the well.”

The trainer has an interesting second string to his bow in the form of Palm Lily, who steps up in class after making a big impression her racecourse debut at Kempton in early June.

Ralph Beckett saddles two runners in Ascot's opener on Saturday
Ralph Beckett saddles two runners in Ascot’s opener on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Palm Lily carries the colours of Juddmonte, whose racing manager Barry Mahon, said: “She’s a filly that Ralph has always liked, she won very nicely the first day and she’s just been growing since, so he’s been patient and given her time.

“Ralph said that she worked nicely on Saturday and she deserves to take her chance in it.”

Palm Lily is one of four unbeaten fillies in the field along with Kevin Ryan’s Thirsk scorer Glenlaurel, George Boughey’s dual all-weather winner Kinta and the William Haggas-trained Royal Charter, who narrowly struck gold on her introduction on the July Course.

“She won well on her debut, it wasn’t a strong race but she’s come forward from that,” said Haggas.

“We’re pitching her in a better race and I’m hoping she’ll run well. I think Ralph Beckett’s horse with Frankie on board has been proven to be pretty useful, so that’s the one we’ve all got to beat.”

Omniqueen won at Ascot on her debut and trainer Dave Loughnane feels she is better than she showed when finishing down the field on her second start in the Queen Mary Stakes at the Royal meeting.

“She didn’t really get the run of the race at Royal Ascot. She clipped heels with the American horse very early on and her chance was over from there,” said Loughnane.

“She’s obviously a winner at the track and I think the step up to six will suit her.”

Richard Hannon and Ryan Moore team up with Minnetonka, who finished fifth when favourite to beat Lezoo in the Listed Empress Stakes last month.

John Quinn’s Breege and Cuban Mistress from Rod Millman’s yard complete the field.

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