Marquand hoping this is My Prospero’s time to shine

Tom Marquand heads into Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes with a sense of frustration.

He rides My Prospero in the 10-furlong Group One contest which, in terms of quality, looks to be the cherry on the icing of the Royal Ascot cake.

Trained by William Haggas, My Prospero was beaten a neck in the St James’s Palace Stakes at the meeting last year.

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He was also beaten half a length Bay Bridge, who reopposes, in the Champion Stakes over the same Ascot mile and a quarter he faces on Wednesday, a race remembered for being the brilliant Baaeed’s last run and sole defeat in his career.

This is a game of fine margins and after a sharpener over a mile on his return when fourth in the Lockinge at Newbury, Marquand hopes the Iffraaj colt can finally get his just rewards.

“He had that run to open him up and, as we expected, the mile was a bit sharp, so going back up to 10 furlongs plays to his strengths,” said the jockey.

“It’s a hot renewal – probably the race of the week and fantastic for racing, but frustrating for us.

“Looking back at the run in the Champion Stakes, the change in tempo at the bend caught us out a bit. Being beaten so narrowly after that you hope you’ve got a good chance of beating them next time.

“It certainly feels like we haven’t had a true chance to show what is exactly there yet, which makes it pretty exciting.”

Adayar took the Gordon Richards in style at Newmarket
Adayar took the Gordon Richards in style at Newmarket (Nigel French/PA)

My Prospero was a nose behind runner-up Adayar in the Champion Stakes and the 2021 Derby winner, who won the Gordon Richards over this distance at Newmarket on his return with some ease, comes into the race with plenty of confidence behind him.

“We have been delighted with how Adayar has come forward since the Gordon Richards Stakes,” trainer Charlie Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“It’s a very strong renewal but Adayar is in great shape and we are very much looking forward to it. The target this season has been to win a Group One over a mile and a quarter and this will hopefully be his opportunity.”

The Champion Stakes, part of the Qipco British Champions Series, saw Sir Michael Stoute’s Bay Bridge triumphant.

However, he has been narrowly beaten twice subsequently, in the Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp on his return in April and by Luxembourg in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

Consequently, Bay Bridge is joint-third best in the betting with My Prospero, although with plenty of rain falling ahead of the start of the meeting and heavy showers in the forecast, connections return to Ascot with plenty of optimism.

Bay Bridge and Richard Kingscote will hope to return to the Ascot winner's enclosure
Bay Bridge and Richard Kingscote will hope to return to the Ascot winner’s enclosure (John Walton/PA)

James Savage, Stoute’s assistant trainer, said: “It is what we expected, a very strong renewal. The mile-and-a-quarter division is as strong as I have seen.

“He took a step forward for every run last year. He took a massive step forward from France to the Curragh, running a big race behind Luxembourg, and we expect him to improve again at Ascot. He has trained very well.

“We are still very respectful of the opposition and if Ascot gets the forecast rain that would be positive, but he showed he is effective on good ground at the Curragh.”

Last season’s Irish Champion Stakes hero, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Luxembourg, tops the market.

The lightly-raced four-year-old, the winner of six of his nine starts, made all in the Tattersalls Gold Cup under Ryan Moore.

Luxembourg beat Bay Bridge at the Curragh last time
Luxembourg beat Bay Bridge at the Curragh last time (Niall Carson/PA)

O’Brien said: “I’m happy with him and he progressed nicely at the Curragh from the first day to the second. I was delighted he made the running which leaves him versatile as to tactics in the race.”

Kenny McPeek sends US Grade One winner Classic Causeway over for his British debut, although he will be the big outsider of the sextet, while Mostahdaf completes the line-up.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the five-year-old was last seen finishing seven lengths adrift of Equinox in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.

He has fallen short in his three attempts in top-class company but Angus Gold, racing manager to Sheikha Hissa’s Shadwell operation, hopes Jim Crowley’s mount will run with credit now that he drops back in trip.

“It’s a really hot race. He’s done us proud in the winter and won a lot of money in his two runs abroad,” said Gold.

“He’s a horse for Sheikha Hissa and her family to enjoy, he’s very consistent and if he’s good enough to win a Prince of Wales’s, Wednesday will tell us.

“He’s never been short of speed and there had been a train of thought, even before Dubai, that a mile and a quarter would be his best.

“He didn’t finish off his race in Dubai, to the degree people said he doesn’t stay, but equally he was the one horse off the bend who went to have a crack at Equinox and he paid the price for that later on.

“I’m not saying he doesn’t get a mile and a half, but he definitely has the pace to be competitive over a mile and a quarter.

“He’s given us all some great days and it will be fun to see where he fits in. He loves fast ground, though.”

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