Reach For The Moon is set to spearhead the Queen’s Royal Ascot team in the Hampton Court Stakes on Thursday.
The one-time Derby contender – who was a close second in the Chesham Stakes 12 months ago – had a setback that upset Classic plans and when it became clear he would not make Epsom, Royal Ascot became his aim.
John and Thady Gosden’s colt finished second to My Prospero in the Heron Stakes on his comeback and now steps up in trip for the Group Three Hampton Court.
“Because Her Majesty can only go racing a few times a year we try to make sure whether it’s Newbury in the spring, Epsom or Ascot if we have an opportunity to target a horse at them it makes sense to do so,” said the Queen’s racing and bloodstock adviser John Warren on the Nick Luck daily podcast.
“Ascot was very much on the agenda (after Sandown), he’d had a setback over the winter and luckily being in the hands of an expert trainer in John Gosden, as far as the Queen in concerned everything has to be in the best interests of the horse and it seemed churlish to put the horse under any pressure (to make the Derby).
“It became pretty evident around the time of the Dante, when we couldn’t make that, we knew then that the unfortunate scenario of missing the Derby was staring us in the face so it was all roads to Ascot.
“We’ve had a few discussions in terms of trip. His dam was so quick and he’s muscularly formed so we’ve settled on his trip for the time being over a mile and a quarter. He’s got an Eclipse entry, although that’s a bit tight. He’s in the King George, but he’s yet to prove he’s a Group One horse.
“We think he is (out of the top drawer) though he’s got to go and do it. As the Queen always says, the horses can do the talking and he’ll tell us. We’re very confident he’s a high-class horse and everything points to that. If he does extremely well and looks the Real McCoy then he’ll be aimed for Group Ones accordingly.”
As for the rest of the Queen’s runners, Warren picked out Just Fine in the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday as holding solid claims.
“Just Fine is rated 97 so he won’t be thrown in. He’s by Sea The Stars so should stay a mile and a half,” said Warren.
“He ran a nice race at York on his comeback so the Duke of Edinburgh is the right race for him at this point. It would be fair to say I’ve got strong feedback from Sir Michael (that) the horse is in very good form.”
Other runners in the famous colours include Perfect Alibi in the Queen’s Vase (Wednesday), Naval College in the King George V Handicap (Thursday), Saga (Thursday) in the Britannia and King’s Lynn who may yet attempt a Group One double in the King’s Stand (Tuesday) and Platinum Jubilee (Saturday) sprints.