Arecibo leads Sandown charge for Cowell

Royal Ascot runner-up Arecibo will bid to go one better in the Coral Charge at Sandown on Saturday.

Robert Cowell’s six-year-old was last seen finishing behind Oxted in the Group One King’s Stand Stakes, defying odds of 28-1.

That performance on good to firm ground was days before the deluge at the Royal meeting, but Cowell’s gelding also has form on slower going and should not be hindered by whatever conditions are presented for this weekend’s Group Three contest.

“He was a pretty decent second at Royal Ascot, which we were thrilled about,” Cowell said.

“He’s got good form on soft and fast, so regardless of the ground he should have a good chance, he might prefer the ground more than some of the others will.”

The trainer’s only concern was the nature of the track at the Esher venue, which cuts through the main oval course and rises uphill throughout.

Cowell added: “Sandown can be a bit funny as they all roll on top of each other sometimes, so it can be a bit of a tricky track, but I think if he stays out of trouble he should run well.

“I know there’s only 10 runners and it’s a slightly smaller field but Sandown’s a funny old place, you can get stuck behind horses and it can get quite tricky.

“Off his rating he’s got a very good chance if he does what he did at Ascot.”

Cowell also runs the grey Rocket Action, who will look to claim his first victory since late 2019.

He said: “I don’t know why, but he wasn’t well after he ran in France early this year as he came back not quite right. It has taken some time to get him healthy again.

“We have put him in a visor, just to sharpen him up. He worked very well in them the other day and it could be something that revitalises his enthusiasm. He looks really well.”

Marco Botti is hoping conditions stay dry for his in-form colt Atalis Bay.

The three-year-old has run three times this season, winning on his first outing before finishing second in the Listed Westow Stakes and then taking the Scurry Stakes at Sandown, also a Listed race.

Atalis Bay winning the Scurry Stakes
Atalis Bay winning the 2021 Scurry Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Atalis Bay faces older horses together with stepping up to Group Three level, a task his trainer feels he can manage providing the going comes in his favour.

“He’s in good order, he won well in the Listed race at Sandown,” he said.

“We’re hoping the ground will keep drying out, the forecast now has changed to dry for the rest of the week.

“The ground would be borderline for him (at the moment), the quicker the better – good ground would be fine, but I wouldn’t like to run him on any softer than good ground.

“Obviously this is a step up in class and taking on the older horses is never an easy task, but he’s done nothing wrong this year and he’s progressing.”

Lazuli winning the 2020 Scurry Stakes
Lazuli winning the 2020 Scurry Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Atalis Bay is one of two three-year-olds in the field along with Richard Hannon’s Happy Romance, while Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old Lazuli travels to Sandown off the back of a Group Three win in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.

Appleby said: “He goes into the race fit and well, but we will be on weather watch. He was declared on soft ground and we are hoping it is going to dry back a good bit.

“If there is any more rain on top of where we are he is probably an unlikely participant.

“He is fit and well, but it has been frustrating as we have been trying to get a run into him for a while now. Haydock Park (Temple Stakes) was soft ground and he missed an option in France because of the soft ground. We are chasing the good for him.”

John Quinn’s Keep Busy is also in winning form after taking the Listed Land O’Burns Fillies’ Stakes at Ayr on her last appearance, prior to which she finished fifth in the King’s Stand under Ryan Moore.

Moore rides again and told Betfair: “She is a tough and talented filly who takes her racing well, and she has stronger claims than most in here.

“She returned to near her best when fifth in the King’s Stand for me, and followed that up with a fairly decisive win in Listed company at Ayr last time.

“She finished a good second in the Scurry here last season and a bit of ease in the ground is fine too. Hopefully, her draw on the rail in (stall) one proves a positive.”

Completing the field are Ed Walker’s Palace House runner-up Came From The Dark, Karl Burke’s Ainsdale, Tim Easterby’s Count D’orsay and the Andrew Balding-trained Stone Of Destiny.

Arecibo heading for King’s Stand after leading home famous four for Robert Cowell

Arecibo is set for the King’s Stand Stakes after headlining the first home four for trainer Robert Cowell in the WSG Sports Handicap at Newmarket on Saturday.

The six-year-old defied the steadier of 10st in tremendous style, by two and a quarter lengths in the hands of Frankie Dettori, with stablemates Ishvara, Benefit Street and Blue De Vega filling the next three places to give Cowell a remarkable clean sweep at his local track.

That smart performance has Cowell eyeing a possible third success in next month’s Group One dash at Royal Ascot, after Prohibit in 2011 and Goldream in 2015.

“Arecibo is going to Royal Ascot. He’s a class horse. I don’t know how much he’ll go up in the handicap, but I think he’s certain to go up 5lb or 6lb and that warrants him a place in the King’s Stand line-up in my mind,” he said.

“He’s clearly very useful and tracking a really fast place will really help him. I think the stiff Ascot finish will help him and he goes on any ground.

“He’s tailor-made for the race. He’ll definitely go for the King’s Stand.

“It’s been a lucky race for us and it’s race we’ve won a couple of times and a race I’d love to win again.

“Apart from Battaash, the rest of them are as equally as good as each other.

“We’ll see, but it’s exciting to have a horse of his calibre and hopefully he’ll show up on the day.”

Prohibit and Jim Crowley (green hat) winning the King’s Stand Stakes
Prohibit and Jim Crowley (green hat) winning the King’s Stand Stakes (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Cowell reflected on his achievement of saddling the first four home in a race – almost matching Michael Dickinson’s ‘Famous Five’ from the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

“That did tickle me a bit. I’ve not had anything like that happen to us before,” he said.

“We’ve had a one-two in races, but nothing like that. I suppose you have at least four in the race to have a chance of doing something like that. We’ve got some ammunition, which is great.

“The course is just down the road from us so it made it an obvious choice for these horses.

“All four are in tip-top shape, they’re happy and all is good.”