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Teal on weather watch for Oxted ahead of Ascot

Oxted will only run in the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot next month if conditions are suitable.

Trainer Roger Teal reports his July Cup winner to be back in rude health after being forced to miss the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Preparations are going swimmingly now ahead of the Group One sprint over six furlongs – but Teal would rather put him away for the season rather than risk the proven fast-ground performer on going that would compromise his chance.

“He’s back in full work and we’re going quietly away with him towards Ascot, all being well,” said Teal.

“Obviously we’ll monitor the ground situation. If this weather could last for another month we’d be highly delighted, but it’s unlikely to happen.

“We’ll have to make a decision whether we go there or not or wait until next year or whatever. He’s only a four-year-old.

“We wanted to go to Haydock, but things didn’t go right. We don’t want to go to Champions Day if we’re not sure about conditions.

“We gave him a quite week. We didn’t stop working with him. He just went on hacks and we freshened him up. He’s been doing some healthy exercise.

“He’s cantering away now and looks absolutely superb. We’re happy with the way he looks.”

Art Power returning to scene of finest hour

Tim Easterby is eyeing a return to Ascot for his star sprinter Art Power.

The grey son of Dark Angel looked every inch a top-class sprinter in the making when dominating his rivals in handicap company at the Royal meeting in June – his fourth win from his first five starts.

He finished a disappointing sixth when well fancied for the Nunthorpe at York last month, but shaped better when fourth in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on his latest appearance.

Art Power has looked a top-class sprinter in the making
Art Power has looked a top-class sprinter in the making (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Qipco British Champions Sprint on October 17 is next on Art Power’s agenda.

Easterby said: “He’s in good shape – he came out of Haydock well.

“I was very happy with how he ran at Haydock and it will be Ascot next for him, all being well.

“He’ll be a better horse next year as he’s still got some strengthening up to do.”

Dark Vision could head to Joel Stakes before potential QEII outing

Dark Vision could take in the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket on Friday en route to a return to Group One company in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

The Group Two mile prize is under consideration for the Mark Johnston-trained Dream Ahead colt ahead of a potential outing on Qipco British Champions Day, for what would be a first start at the top level since last year’s 2000 Guineas.

Having claimed the Royal Hunt Cup on his second start this season and a Listed contest at Pontefract three runs ago, Dark Vision continued his recent revival with victory in a Group Two at Baden-Baden in Germany.

Assistant trainer Charlie Johnston said: “He is in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket so we will have a look at that. If he doesn’t run there we might wait until the QEII, but we are not ruling out doing both.

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“He likes the course and distance (at Ascot) and if we are going to roll the dice at that level that’s where it will be at.

“If Palace Pier and the whole shooting match turn up it will be a pretty scary place to go, but at the same time if there is a big field around him I could see him picking up the pieces and running well.”

Sheikh Mohammed purchased Dark Vision during his two-year-old campaign (Simon Cooper/PA Images)
Sheikh Mohammed purchased Dark Vision during his two-year-old campaign (Simon Cooper/PA Images)

Although Dark Vision failed to hit the heights he promised as a juvenile during a disappointing three-year-old season, Johnston believes his performances this term demonstrate he has turned a corner.

He said: “You could call this season a revival. He was rated 113 at two and he dropped down to 97 following a lacklustre three-year-old campaign.

“Off the back of Germany the handicapper has put him up to 113 and he has gone right back to the heights he scaled as a two-year-old.

“I’m not quite sure this is what Sheikh Mohammed had hoped for after his two-year-old season, but to win at Royal Ascot and in a Group Two is a good season in most books, which I’m sure he would agree with.

A return trip to Germany later in the season is an option for Communique (Joe Giddens/PA images)
A return trip to Germany later in the season is an option for Communique (Joe Giddens/PA images)

Stablemate Communique is in line for a return to Germany in the Group One Preis von Bayern at Munich on November 8 – provided conditions are suitable, having found only Barney Roy too good in the Grosser Preis von Baden earlier this month.

Johnston said: “He is a funny old horse. Just as you think he might be a bit out of form after his Goodwood an Newbury runs, he then runs well at Windsor and in a German Group One showing their is life in the old boy still.

“He has finished second in two Group Ones in Germany and is a bit below that level in England.

“There is the Preis von Bayern still to come. It is late in the year and the ground could be bad, but it is not impossible that he could go there.”

Mishriff team looking forward to Ascot date

Mishriff is reported to be in tip-top shape ahead of the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot next month.

Connections decided not to entertain thoughts of supplementing the French Derby hero for the Qatar Pix de l’Arc de Triomphe and stick to a mile and a quarter for the Group One on October 17.

Mishriff has thrived since making a triumphant return to France for the Group Two Prix Guillaume D’Ornano at Deauville and has won all his three starts this term.

“He’s bouncing, he’s going well and he’s waiting for his date at Ascot,” said Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal.

“John (Gosden) and the Prince made a decision and that’s where we’re going. We’ve just got to find out what we’re racing against.

“It will be exciting. It will be nice to compete in another race in England and see what he’s made of.

“At the moment he’s showing a nice turn of foot which they are not always blessed with. Let’s hope he can keep doing that when it’s needed.”

Prince Faisal has a promising two-year-old, by Mishriff’s sire Make Believe, in Third Kingdom, who was third to subsequent Solario Stakes scorer Etonian at Sandown on the latest of his two starts.

The colt could be back action again shortly after missing an intended outing at Chelmsford recently.

“He was down to go to Chelmsford the other day and just had a bit of heat in a joint and they elected not to go,” said Voute.

“It has since been looked at and is nothing serious. He should be out soon.

“The form of that second race of his has come out quite nicely so it was a shame he couldn’t go to Chelmsford as it looked like his for the taking but we’re waiting for John to give him an entry and see how good he is.

“Let’s hope he can win on his third start and we can look forward to a good 2021.”

Newmarket could be next for QEII contender Top Rank

James Tate has the Shadwell Joel Stakes at Newmarket on September 25 in mind next for Top Rank, although the weather could scupper his plan.

The rapidly-improving four-year-old was impressive at Haydock last time out in the Superior Mile, and Tate has his eyes on a crack at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day.

He would prefer that Top Rank goes to Ascot having contested a Group Two first – but the grey does not want fast ground.

“What I would like to run him in next is the Joel at Newmarket, but he wouldn’t be a fast ground horse,” said Tate.

“That’s the first possible race, so we’ll just have to take it as it comes. Other possibles are the Prix Daniel Wildenstein in France or the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket I’ve entered him in, but that’s over seven and he really would want cut in the ground for that.

“At the end of the year obviously there is the QEII but we’re looking for a Group Two next, ideally.”

Tate went on: “He came out of Haydock in very good order and is crying out for another run. I’d like that to be the Joel, but I would like to see some rain between between now and then.

“I’d rather give him a run in a Group Two before a Group One, but I can see problems in that so we could end up in a Group One straight away. Either way, I think he’s going to be some prospect next year.

“Should he win the QEII then obviously there’s a stud career to think about, but that would be a lovely conversation to have. At this stage I’m going into the autumn thinking we’re going to have fun with him next year.”

Menuisier has Group One options for Wonderful Tonight

Ground conditions will dictate the next step of David Menuisier’s Prix Minerve winner Wonderful Tonight.

The filly stepped up in class markedly at the weekend to run in the Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp and acquitted herself well, in what looked a strong renewal.

She finished fifth of 10, beaten four lengths by Dermot Weld’s impressive winner Tarnawa on ground quicker than ideal.

“I thought she ran a very, very solid race,” Menuisier said.

“Considering the ground was probably far from ideal for her, I thought she ran an absolute stormer.

“She was only beaten a length and a half from the second place, and she probably ran to the same sort of mark, or maybe even better, than when she won in Deauville on ideal ground. So that kind of bodes well for the future.”

Menuisier is now considering two separate paths as he seeks her favoured conditions, with both the Prix de Royallieu back at ParisLongchamp and the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot pencilled in.

“I will go wherever the ground is the softest,” he said.

“It will either be the Royallieu on the Saturday of Arc weekend, over a mile and six furlongs, or the fillies and mares at Ascot on Champions Day over a mile and four.

“Let’s face it, we’ve only just run so we need to make our minds up in a few weeks.

“If the ground looked pretty soft over Arc weekend then I think we’ll just go there, rather than take a chance, not go there and then we end up on good ground at Ascot.

“If the ground is heavy or very soft for the Arc weekend then we’ll probably run there and then take it from there. If it’s not quite soft enough, we might bypass it and go to Ascot instead. I’m open minded really, I feel it’s a good problem to have!”

QEII target on Champions Day for Century Dream

Ed Crisford is keeping his fingers crossed for soft ground on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot to give Century Dream the best possible chance of bouncing back from a slightly underwhelming performance in Ireland on Saturday.

Having run out an impressive winner of the Celebration Mile at Goodwood last month, the six-year-old was the market leader to double his Group Two tally in the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown.

However, having cut out much of the running under William Buick, Century Dream weakened into fifth place as fellow British raider Safe Voyage emerged triumphant.

Crisford, who trains Century Dream in partnership with his father, Simon, said: “I think the ground was a bit quick at Leopardstown and they went strong enough up front.

“The ground was probably a bit quick for him, but he’s come back fine and I think we’ll just head to the QEII on hopefully softer ground.”

The following afternoon A’Ali was sent off favourite to grab Group One glory in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh, where he landed the Sapphire Stakes in July.

A'Ali failed to fire in the Flying Five
A’Ali failed to fire in the Flying Five (Dan Abraham/PA)

But all plans are on hold for the son of Society Rock after he trailed home last of 14 runners.

“He was disappointing – he looked a bit flat and a bit lethargic,” Crisford said.

“We’ll just see how he is this week before we make any further plans, I think. When they run too bad to be true, we need to put the horse first and see how he comes out of it.”

Foret next stop for Earthlight – with Breeders’ Cup in the mix afterwards

Earthlight is set to head for the Qatar Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp next – and could go to the Breeders’ Cup after that.

Having lost his unbeaten record in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, the Andre Fabre-trained dual Group One winner successfully stepped up to seven furlongs in the Group Three Prix du Pin at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Should all go well on Arc day, the son of Shamardal has the option of going to Keeneland in November.

“He’s good. He handled the seven furlongs well,” said Fabre.

“That was a prep race for the Foret so that is the obvious target for him.

“The Breeders’ Cup Mile could be an option later.”

Fabre has yet to speak with connections on plans for Persian King following the colt’s victory in the Prix du Moulin.

That Group One success over Pinatubo, who carries the colours of Persian King’s co-owners Godolphin, came at a mile.

The four-year-old’s options include the Qatar Prix de l’Arc Triomphe over a mile and a half back at the same course and the Qipco British Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter at Ascot.

“I don’t know yet where he goes next. We have to discuss it with the owners,” said Fabre.

“The Champion Stakes is quite some time away and I didn’t know how the ground would be then. The Arc is a possibility.”

Mogul comes good to claim Group One glory in Grand Prix de Paris

Investec Derby hero Serpentine had to settle for fourth as his stablemate Mogul claimed top honours in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at ParisLongchamp.

Serpentine was a surprise winner of the premier Classic at Epsom under an enterprising front-running ride from Emmet McNamara.

Ridden more patiently on this occasion by Christophe Soumillon, the Galileo colt appeared in a good position rounding the home turn, but ultimately failed to pick up sufficiently, although there was promise in his return.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds Mogul – and he was the chosen mount of Ryan Moore in the Derby, where he finished sixth, despite disappointing at Royal Ascot on his previous start.

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Another son of Galileo, he opened his account for the campaign in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, before finishing third behind Pyledriver in last month’s Great Voltigeur at York.

Held up for a late run by Pierre-Charles Boudot, Mogul was nearer last than first at the top of the straight, but made stylish headway against the far rail before extending clear in impressive style.

Speaking at the Curragh, O’Brien said: “We’re delighted with him (Mogul). We always felt that he was only coming (to hand) and I kept saying it.

“He was starting to show so much speed I kind of thought maybe we were going the wrong way and we should be going back to a mile and a quarter. I said to Pierre-Charles today ‘ride him for speed, take your time on him and drop him on the line’.

“He’s obviously a fast horse as he’s able to quicken. I thought we were going too far today over a mile and a half.

“He’s entered in Australia, (or) he can go to for the Champion Stakes at Ascot. He could go to America and Hong Kong, so there’s a lot of options for him.”

Serpentine finished fourth in the Grand Prix de Paris
Serpentine finished fourth in the Grand Prix de Paris (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Of Serpentine, he added: “It was his first run back (after a break) and Christophe was very happy with him.

“He had a good break, which we wanted to give him. I was thinking of starting him today and going back for the Arc, but we’ll see how he is.

“I was very happy with how happy Christophe was with him.”

In Swoop and Gold Trip finished second and third, with the British pair of Highland Chief and English King behind Serpentine in fifth and sixth respectively.

Champion Stakes on the agenda for Pyledriver

A crack at the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot is next on the agenda for Pyledriver following his fine effort to finish third in the Pertemps St Leger.

Having already won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Great Voltigeur at York this season, William Muir’s stable star was strongly fancied for the final British Classic of the year at Doncaster on Saturday.

After travelling strongly for much of the race, the son of Harbour Watch ended up racing on the far side of the track in the closing stages and ultimately had to make do with minor honours.

Muir said: “He’s come home safe and sound. I wondered whether the race might have taken a bit out of him, but he’s eaten everything and he’s in great shape.”

Jockey Martin Dwyer – Muir’s son-in-law – felt Pyledriver failed to see out the trip of a mile and three-quarters and he is set to come back to a mile and a quarter on Champions Day.

“I don’t want to be dogmatic and say he didn’t stay. He didn’t stay quite as well as the first two, but I felt he was closing again at the line and at the end of the day he’s been beaten a length and a neck,” Muir added.

“He couldn’t quite go through the gears like he did at York. It didn’t help that he got a bump and ended up out on a wing on his own, but that’s racing.

“The Champion Stakes was the plan and I don’t see any reason to change it.

“I think he’ll be fine back at a mile and a quarter and if it did come up heavy ground, he’d handle that and it would mean you’d nearly need to stay a mile and a half well to win, which he obviously does.

“He is still a bit weak, which I’ve been telling everyone all year. He’ll be some horse next year, I promise you.”