Monday Musings: The Apples of Charlie’s Eye

I finally made it to Ascot on Saturday, my first visit to a racecourse since the last day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, writes Tony Stafford. As I drove the last few miles the excitement was almost making me breathless and I was delighted that by waiting until there was an element of normality, my trip was just as I remembered all those wonderful big-race summer afternoons.

The best part, apart from seeing a great winner of a very good King George, was the thing that I, as a now very senior citizen, always regarded as my private, exclusive club. When you’ve been racing in a sort of professional role you get to know hundreds, probably into the thousands, of people in the same narrow environment.

When loads of them stop to ask, “How are you? Long time, no see!” and variations of those sentiments having been stuck mostly at home for 16 months, it is so energising. I always used to say, “Most people my age probably see half a dozen people a day if they are lucky. I go racing three or four days a week and see maybe an average of a hundred or more that I know.”

And Ascot on Saturday was as normal as it ever was. Bars, restaurants and boxes open and fully extended, the always beautifully attired Ascot crowds basking in the better than predicted weather and fast ground befitting the middle of summer.

One person who didn’t make it was the “You’ve been pinged!” trainer of the brilliant Adayar, Charlie Appleby, who had neglected to do what people increasingly have been doing, removing the app from their phones.

Not too many Derby winners have followed their Epsom success with victory in the same year’s King George. It was more commonplace in the first 50 years of the race’s existence after its inauguration in 1951. But in this century, until Saturday only Galileo, Adayar’s grandsire via Frankel, had managed the double.

Appleby therefore made it four mile and a half Group 1 wins since the beginning of June with his two Frankel colts, the home-bred Adayar and his stablemate Hurricane Lane, the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris hero, bred by Philippa Cooper’s Normandie Stud.

Both horses won maidens in the last part of October, Hurricane Lane on debut and Adayar second time out. Both therefore were far less trumpeted at the beginning of this season when again Hurricane Run started with more precocity, indeed until he finished third to Adayar, the apparent third string at Epsom, he was unbeaten.

Adayar’s juvenile victory came in the Golden Horn Maiden at Nottingham, the race name being awarded to the great Derby winner the year after his Classic triumph. Previously it was known as the Oath Maiden Stakes in honour of the 1999 Derby hero owned by the Thoroughbred Corporation, who won the same maiden to get his career on the go the previous autumn.

I thought I would have a look at Charlie Appleby’s 2021 three-year-old complement courtesy of Horses in Training. Charlie had 70 horses of that age listed at the start of the season, 21 fillies and 49 male horses. Of the 21 fillies, eleven are by Dubawi, also the sire of 27 Appleby colts and geldings. Surprisingly, as many as 12 were already gelded at the start of the campaign and at least a couple more have subsequently experienced the unkindest cut.

Appleby had three colts by Dubawi as major candidates for the 2,000 Guineas: Meydan Classic winner Naval Crown, who beat Master Of The Seas that day; Master Of The Seas himself, who went on to win the Craven Stakes; and One Ruler, runner-up to Mac Swiney in the 2020 Vertem Futurity, also went to the Guineas. Master Of The Seas did best, losing out in a desperate thrust to the line with Poetic Flare and, while that Jim Bolger horse has gone on to run in both the Irish (close third to Mac Swiney) and French (easy winner) Guineas, and then dominated the St James’s Palace Stakes, we are yet to see Master Of The Seas again.

Another Dubawi colt to do well has been Yibir, winner of the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s July meeting, while the geldings Kemari (King Edward VII) and Creative Force (Jersey Stakes) both at Royal Ascot have been to the fore.

It is noticeable that several of the gelded group have been either difficult to train or simply very late developers.

Meanwhile, the five-strong team of Frankel sons have been nothing short of spectacular. It will be of great satisfaction for the organisation that Adayar is out of a Dubawi mare and not an especially talented one.

What of the other three? One, Magical Land, has been gelded. He won the latest of his seven races for Appleby and has an 80 rating. The others have not been sighted this year. Fabrizio, placed as a juvenile, is a non-winner but Dhahabi is an interesting horse I’d love to see reappearing.

At 3.1 million guineas this half-brother to Golden Horn carried plenty of expectations. He won on debut and, last time in the autumn, was third to One Ruler in a Group 3 at Newmarket. Just the five Frankels, then, and I bet Charlie wishes he had a few more. The list of juveniles shows 48 sons and daughters of Dubawi and 11 by Frankel.

For many years the ultra-loyal and ever agreeable Saeed Bin Suroor was the only and then the principal Godolphin trainer. His stable is now increasingly the junior partner with half of the 140-odd complement listed as four years of age or older, and many of these are probably more suited to the structure of racing in Dubai over the winter. Saeed has three Dubawi three-year-old colts and one filly this year, but none by Frankel. The juveniles listed reveal one by each stallion.

How ironic that in the year of Prince Khalid Abdullah’s death in January, the all-conquering owner of Juddmonte Farms never saw the crowning of Frankel, already the greatest racehorse certainly of the past half-century, as a Derby-producing sire.

He will surely progress again from this situation and, now with Galileo also recently deceased, is in position as the obvious inheritor of his sire’s pre-eminence.

The other younger contenders will take time to earn their prestige and it can only be good for racing that a horse that went unbeaten through 14 races has made such a statement at the top end of the sport.

To win his King George, Adayar had to see off the challenge from the tough Mishriff, stepping forward from his comeback third to St Mark’s Basilica in the Eclipse Stakes. His owner, Prince Abdulrahman Abdullah Faisal, was one of the people I’ve known for half a lifetime that greeted me on Saturday. Also, Adayar had to consign Love to her first defeat for 21 months. The concession of so much weight to a younger colt by an older mare – 8lb – is never easy, but her race didn’t go as expected either.

Her pacemaker Broome missed the break and then only gradually moved into the lead. In the straight Love looked poised and then Mishriff tightened her up on the outside as Ryan Moore was beginning to move her into a challenging position. Having to change course, as the Coolmore filly did halfway up the short Ascot straight, is never the recipe for success.

It is fair to say, though, that Adayar would have won whatever. It will be interesting to see how Appleby shuffles his pack. Someone suggested the St Leger. If you wanted to make Adayar a jumps stallion, that’s what you would do. He won’t go anywhere near Town Moor in September. With due deference to the fifth Classic, he will have much bigger fish to fry.

- TS

Skalleti impresses with finishing flourish in German Group One

A second tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes remains the primary objective for Skalleti after notching his second Group One victory in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich on Sunday.

Jerome Reynier’s stable star found only the William Haggas-trained Addeybb too strong on Champions Day at Ascot in October and has returned seemingly better than ever this season.

After winning at Group Three and Group Two level in the spring, Skalleti claimed his first top-level success in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp at the end of May, narrowly beating Charlie Hills’ subsequent Summer Mile scorer Tilsit.

A hot favourite to follow up in Germany, the six-year-old was settled at the rear of the field for much of the 10-furlong contest by veteran French jockey Gerald Mosse.

And while he still a long way behind the pacesetting Tabera rounding the home turn, Skalleti ultimately made up the ground comfortably before powering clear for a dominant success.

Reynier said: “It was a good opportunity to add another Group One to his record. It seemed an easy race for him on paper, but you always worry something might go wrong.

“Gerald was very happy with him. They didn’t go very fast early on and he was out the back, but when he asked him to go he did it well.

“It was not our original plan to run him during the summer because we wanted to avoid all the travel and the firm ground, but this summer is pretty weird as it’s been pretty stormy with a lot of rain – and because the horse was in such good shape we said we had to go.

“To be heading back down south with another Group One victory is great.”

Last season Skalleti won the Prix Dollar just a fortnight before running in the Champion Stakes and his trainer is eyeing a repeat, with a potential run at Deauville next month also under consideration.

“If all goes well, we’ll probably go to the Prix Dollar before going back to Ascot. It worked quite well last year and we hope to win both races this year,” Reynier added.

“The Dollar and the Champion Stakes are only two weeks apart, but so many horses have run well on Arc weekend and then run well again on Champions Day at Ascot. If he’s in great shape and we’re very happy with him, we can give it a go.

“If the ground is too firm in Longchamp, we can skip the Dollar and go straight to the Champion Stakes, but we’ll see in due course.

“He’ll definitely have an entry in the Grand Prix de Deauville at the end of August. I know the trip is a bit longer (extended mile and a half), but it’s a 200,000 euros Group Two – if the ground is soft enough and the horse is in good shape, I’m sure he’d have a great chance.”

Rosie Margarson praises IJF after high-profile Ascot success

Rosie Margarson paid tribute to the Injured Jockeys Fund as she reflected on her victory aboard Spirited Guest in the Longines Handicap at Ascot on Saturday.

It was Margarson’s first ride in public since she broke her ankle in May and she had only been riding out again for just over a week. She also had to pass the doctor before being allowed to compete in the race confined to female amateur jockeys.

The 26-year-old grabbed the opportunity with both hands by making virtually all the running on the five-year-old, trained by her father George, to land the prize.

“I still can’t believe it. I’m 10 weeks on from the ankle break and I only started back riding out last Friday week,” she said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed myself and went for it when I realised I’d won. I thought I may never get this opportunity again. It’s the biggest race of the amateur calendar. I just went hell for leather and I cheered with the crowd.

“It was mayhem and so nice to see people really engaging. It was one of those moments I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”

Margarson explained the work at Peter O’Sullevan House in Newmarket that went into her being in a position to get back in the saddle.

She said: “I’ve had tons of physio. Without the Injured Jockeys Fund I would not have ridden yesterday, no way. They have pieced me back together. I’ve had lots of physio sessions and I’ve been in the hydrotherapy pool and in the gym.

“They have been incredible. They never stopped working on me. Even on days when I couldn’t be bothered and I just wanted to stay in bed and mope about, that wasn’t acceptable. They would get me up and going.

“That is the reason I have been able to bounce back so quickly. It’s thanks to them.”

The winning trainer was a proud father as well, saying: “It was a great day. She’s only been riding back out for 10 days. She’d been keeping fit on the Equicizer but she only got the clearance to ride out 10 days ago and she had to pass the doctor yesterday morning as well.

“It was great for her. She’s over the moon, as are the rest of us. It’s like having a big win.”

The trainer also pointed out a link between his last winner on King George day and the big race itself.

“The last time we had a winner on King George day at Ascot was when Atavus won the International Handicap in 2001 and Galileo won the big one. He was the last Derby winner to win the King George until Adayar did it yesterday,” he added.

York welcomes 30,000 crowd back to ‘bit of normality’

York racecourse boss William Derby welcomed the sight of busy grandstands as the track hosted its first unrestricted crowd for 18 months.

The Knavesmire, along with Ascot hosting the first full Saturday attendance since the relaxation of coronavirus measures this week, staged the Group Two Sky Bet York Stakes – with live music from Rick Astley and then McFly providing added entertainment after racing over the past two days.

York was almost full to capacity on Saturday, with remaining walk-up tickets available only in the centre of the track.

“We’re really pleased that racegoers can return in more normal numbers today,” said Derby, chief executive and the clerk of the course.

“We raced yesterday evening, and it tasted a bit like normality. We’re pleased to be back today, with great racing and music again tonight.

“We had about 10,000 last night and we think about 30,000 today. We reached our capacity on the stands’ side – but people could turn up for the Clock Tower enclosure in the middle of the course today, where they can enjoy their picnics, the seven races and the music.”

The meeting comes ahead of next month’s Ebor Festival, York’s headline fixture and one which is likely to attract similar numbers.

“It’s been a long 18 months for everyone in the country,” added Derby.

“It’s great we’re back – and from our perspective, we’re looking forward to next month for our flagship meeting, the Ebor Festival.

“We’re pleased to be getting back and having a successful rest of the year. People seem to be enjoy being back out and bringing a bit of normality to their lives.”

A crowd of nearly 15,000 attended Ascot to watch Adayar back up his Derby victory with a convincing success in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.

“There’s something very special when a horse goes straight from the Derby to the Arc and there was no hiding place today,” said Nick Smith, director of racing and public affairs at the track.

“That was a perfect horse race. Sometimes the King George produces a hero and sometimes it confirms a hero but I think the public love to engage with three-year-olds.

“This isn’t just Ascot’s midsummer showpiece, it is Flat racing’s highlight of the summer and today it certainly lived up to its billing.

“It takes a special Derby winner to win this which sometimes gets lost, but today what made it so special was the strength of the older horses. The winner has clearly got so much more to give as he was such a late developer.

“And of course, the big thing today was the crowd. To hear them cheering the horses home and then the reception William (Buick, winning rider) got when he came back in, it was brilliant.”

Appleby hails Adayar after historic King George performance

If any further proof were needed that we are living in strange times, the fact Charlie Appleby missed his Derby winner Adayar following up in the King George And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes through self-isolation just about confirmed it.

It became apparent Appleby was not on track when his New Science won the opening Listed race – and his assistant Alex Merriam duly delivered the news why.

While Appleby later admitted his pain at not being present to witness his fine-looking colt become the first Derby winner since Galileo 20 years ago to follow up at Ascot, having already gone down in history at Epsom, it will soften the blow that he now clearly possesses the two best three-year-old, mile-and-a-half horses in training.

Adayar had stablemate Hurricane Lane back in third at Epsom, and that one has subsequently won the Irish Derby and another Group One in France, with the St Leger now on his agenda.

Appleby was surprised to see Adayar beat Hurricane Lane at Epsom, and subsequent events backed up that view, but the Derby hero was mighty again in front of around 15,000 spectators – who roared him home as the 9-4 winner – and he has now regained number one spot in the Godolphin team.

Pre-race, Appleby had said future plans would be dictated by this result – regarding who would be the yard’s main Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contender – and with a host of Group One winners behind him, the Newmarket trainer feels Adayar is the one to beat.

Appleby said: “First and foremost, I’m delighted for His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed)  in what was an historical event – it’s been 20 years since the great Galileo won the Derby and the King George, and the horse deserves all the plaudits he is getting.

Adayar pulling away from multiple Group One-winners Mishriff and Love
Adayar pulling away from multiple Group One-winners Mishriff and Love (Nigel French/PA)

“It was a good Derby-  as we already knew – and coming into today, we were confident he was in great form. The ground wasn’t a concern, because he’d won on good to firm. I wouldn’t have used the ground as an excuse if he’d lost.

“It was a fantastic ride by William (Buick), who did all the right things, and it was a good race. When the bell went coming into Swinley Bottom, he put himself in the firing line and galloped all the way to the line.

“It was a great race to watch, a great race to be part of and most importantly for His Highness and everyone at Moulton Paddocks a great result.”

As for his absence, like millions of people, Appleby had been “pinged” by the NHS App.

“It’s bit of a pain not to be there. I saw the horse Wednesday morning – and that was the last time I was able to get to the yard and that was when he did his last piece of work. Of course, you’d love to be there for those historical moments – but my job was done. I have a fantastic team around me.

“I said to William this morning, he’s a fantastic jockey and knows his horses, riding them out all the time. It’s unusual for me to ring him before races, but I spoke to him three times today.

“I told him to jump to make it because he’s not quick enough to make the running, but jump as if you wanted to. Stamina is his strong suit, and I was confident something would take it off us. He then rode the perfect race.”

The general consensus at Appleby’s yard before the Derby was that Hurricane Lane was number one, with Adayar likely to head for the St Leger.

How the tables have turned.

“Pre-Derby we were thinking St Leger for this horse, and I told William to ride him as if it he stays a mile and six,” added Appleby.

“The conversations will be had, regarding the future. We’ll have a definitive answer within the next week but right now I’d be thinking this horse will be aimed at the Arc, with maybe the Prix Niel before it. Hurricane Lane will head towards the St Leger, and if he wins that in a fashion that makes the Arc achievable as well, then we’ll regroup after that.

“I’d be disappointed if people didn’t think Adayar was the best mile-and-a-half horse around – he’s won what looked a strong King George.

“He had the allowance, but that is there for a reason. I was confident he wouldn’t look like a three-year-old among them today – and looking on the TV, he didn’t look like the junior.

“He deserves to hold the crown, and I’d be confident he could hold it for the foreseeable future.”

Adayar is mighty in King George victory

Derby hero Adayar cemented his superstar status with an impressive victory in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

Charlie Appleby’s charge was the first Epsom winner to follow up in the 12-furlong Group One since Galileo in 2001, with jockey William Buick saluting the crowd as he passed the post with a length and three-quarters to spare over Mishriff.

Love, winner of last year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks for Aidan O’Brien, was sent off the 13-8 favourite – but had to settle for third, beaten a further length and three-quarters.

Her stablemate Broome slightly fluffed his lines with a tardy start, but he eventually made his way to the front, setting a sound gallop with Adayar racing keenly on his heels for Buick.

Adayar, a 9-4 chance, was clearly travelling well throughout – and when Buick made his move turning for home, the Frankel colt lengthened his stride to assume control and kick for the line.

Mishriff, who raced at the back of the five-runner field, made significant headway in the final couple of furlongs. But Adayar had flown and he galloped out right to the line to give Appleby a first King George win.

William Buick after Adayar's victory
William Buick after Adayar’s victory (Nigel French/PA)

Buick said: “He jumped better than expected, because the eventual leader missed the break and came round us – which set me alight a little – but I wasn’t worried once I backed off the leader as I was sat in shotgun and in a lovely rhythm.

“He had that kick at the top of the straight and then did what we saw at Epsom, that resolute gallop all the way to the line.

“We all thought he was a good Derby winner, and he’s confirmed that today.”

Appleby and Buick have also enjoyed major success with Epsom third Hurricane Lane – landing both the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris in recent weeks – and it is a purple patch that is not lost on the rider.

He added: “It feels amazing to ride these horses – they don’t come around very often, and I think I appreciate more these days. I think I showed that crossing the line! It’s great to win a King George on a Derby winner – it doesn’t happen very often. It’s 20 years since the last one.

“It’s great for Charlie too – he’s a great trainer.

“The horse is a consummate professional and has all the qualities of a top-class horse, that kick and the stamina. I really enjoyed that.”

Adayar on his way to King George glory
Adayar on his way to King George glory (Nigel French/PA)

Appleby was not at Ascot because he is completing a period of self-isolation after being pinged by the Covid-19 app – but the occasion was certainly not lost on him, even if he had to watch at home in Newmarket.

The Godolphin trainer said: “First and foremost, I’m delighted for His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) in what was a historical event – it’s been 20 years since the great Galileo won the Derby and the King George, and the horse deserves all the plaudits he is getting.

“It was a good Derby, as we already knew – and coming into today, we were confident he was in great form. The ground wasn’t a concern, because he’d won on good to firm. I wouldn’t have used the ground as an excuse if he’d lost.

“It’s bit of a pain not to be there. I saw the horse on Wednesday morning – that was the last time I was able to get to the yard, and that was when he did his last piece of work. Of course you’d love to be there for those historical moments. But my job was done – I have a fantastic team around me.”

Adayar is a general 5-1 chance for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and is also favourite for the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster. But Appleby is leaning towards the ParisLongchamp showpiece with his Ascot victor, leaving Hurricane Lane to head to Town Moor.

He added: “The conversations will be had regarding the future. We’ll have a definitive answer within the next week, but right now I’d be thinking this horse will be aimed at the Arc – with maybe the Prix Niel before it.

“Hurricane Lane will head towards the St Leger, and if he wins that in a fashion that makes the Arc achievable as well, then we’ll regroup after that.”

John Gosden, who trains Mishriff in partnership with his son Thady, was satisfied with the effort of his runner-up, who was conceding weight to the winner.

He said: “It was a super race. I’ve always said, I’ve been lucky enough to win it with Nathaniel, Taghrooda and Enable as three-year-olds – they get a lot of weight.

“I said it again after the Eclipse when it was 10lb, and here it was 11lb. It’s a lot.

“Ours has run an absolute blinder, but the winner is a rapidly improving colt. I thought he looked magnificent in the pre-parade ring and I thought ‘Houston, we’re in trouble here’ – but ours ran a blinder, and we’ll go to the Juddmonte to take on another three-year-old and give more weight away!

“There’s nothing wrong with that, though. I love to see the three-year-olds against their elders.”

Danyah delivers for favourite backers in International heat

Danyah gained due reward for a string of good efforts when just holding off Star Of Orion to win the Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot.

The Owen Burrows-trained four-year-old had been placed in three big handicaps this season, including when second in the Buckingham Palace Stakes last time out.

Having travelled strongly to hit the front well over two furlongs out for William Buick, Danyah had to be game as the challengers mounted up.

It was Star Of Orion who got closest for Laura Pearson and Ralph Beckett – but even in receipt of lumps of weight, he could not get by.

“Watching it live, I thought he’d been done again, and it wasn’t until I saw the replay that I thought we’d won,” said Burrows.

“He travelled so well. It was not the plan to make it – but it was a concern that there was not a lot of pace around us.

“These handicaps clearly suit him – and while he’ll be rated high enough to go for a Listed or Group Three now, they won’t be run to suit him.

“He goes on any ground, I’d been eyeing the Balmoral (on Champions Day), because he handles plenty of cut, and I was actually a bit worried the rain hadn’t come today.”

After an agonising near-miss in the Princess Margaret Stakes, champion jockey Oisin Murphy registered another winner in what is proving to be a red-hot spell when Guru got up late in the Porsche Handicap.

Guru (right) just got the better of Marsabit
Guru (right) just got the better of Marsabit (Nigel French/PA)

Without a win since his debut, the John and Thady Gosden-trained three-year-old had run well on his last start at the track behind Isla Kai, a non-runner on this occasion because the ground was too quick.

Sent off a 7-2 chance, he caught Marsabit in the final strides to win by a short head.

John Gosden said: “He’d lost his way a bit but has come back very well and was a bit unlucky the other day.

“They went no pace today and I liked the way he had to get into the race from a long way out. He’ll get 10 furlongs in time but a strongly-run mile is what he wants now.”

When the Cambridgeshire was suggested as a possible target, Gosden replied: “You can say that – but I can’t, because the minute I do, he’d go up another 5lb!”

Spirited Guest triumphed for Rosie Margarson
Spirited Guest triumphed for Rosie Margarson (Nigel French/PA)

Rosie Margarson made a winning comeback after breaking her ankle in May to take the Longines Handicap aboard Spirited Guest.

The five-year-old, trained by the jockey’s father George, ran prominently throughout and prevailed as 100-30 joint-favourite in the event for female amateur riders.

Southern Voyage (2-1) landed the Sebastian’s Action Trust Handicap for trainer Archie Watson and jockey Daniel Tudhope.

Menuisier eyes Goodwood as Wonderful Tonight misses King George

David Menuisier will look towards Goodwood with Wonderful Tonight after ruling her out of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

The four-year-old, winner of the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting on her reappearance last month, needed rain in Berkshire to take her place in Saturday’s Group One line up.

However, the forecast showers did not arrive in time – leaving Menuisier with no option but to skip the event with his stable star.

She is entered in the Group Two Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood next weekend, and Menuisier will be eager to run in the 14-furlong heat if the ground is suitable.

He said: “When you train a soft-ground horse you always need a bit of luck, with races in the middle of the summer.

“She’s the filly of a lifetime with big targets in the autumn, so we’ve got to do right by her.

“We’d like to give Goodwood a go, and she’s entered in the Lillie Langtry Stakes, so could run there.”

Zain Claudette edges thriller in Princess Margaret

Zain Claudette just got the better of Desert Dreamer in a thrilling finish to the Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes at Ascot.

Sent off a 15-2 chance for trainer Ismail Mohammed and jockey Ray Dawson, Zain Claudette cost just £20,000 as a yearling last September, but she has more than repaid that modest price tag with Group Three glory.

Crazyland raced keenly through the early exchanges, with Nazanin also happy to be on the front end as the eventual major players took up waiting positions further back in the 10-runner field.

It looked as though Oisin Murphy had timed his challenge to perfection in delivering 9-4 favourite Desert Dreamer on the far side of the track in the last of the six furlongs, but Dawson had other ideas on Zain Claudette.

She was flying on the near side of the track, with the pair neck and neck in the shadow of the post – and Zain Claudette edging it by a nose in a photo.

Delmona raced between the duo, eventually finishing a further neck down in third.

Zain Claudette (right) and Desert Dreamer were split across the Ascot track
Zain Claudette (right) and Desert Dreamer were split across the Ascot track (Nigel French/PA)

Mohammed said: “She’s a lovely filly and is doing very well. She worked very well last week.

“With each of her runs, she is improving. She’s had three runs, a second and two wins.

“We’re planning to go for some big races with her now – she’s already won a Group Three, so we’ll be looking higher than that.”

New Science strikes late for victory in Pat Eddery Stakes

New Science swooped late to take Listed honours in the Pat Eddery Stakes, the opening event on King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes day at Ascot.

Charlie Appleby’s colt was sent off the 2-1 favourite for the seven-furlong contest despite having disappointed when only seventh in the Chesham Stakes at the Royal meeting last month.

William Buick kept New Science well covered in the early stages, with just Nurseclaire behind him as Mr McCann set a steady gallop through the first half of the race.

Angel Bleu was the first to make his move in earnest, with a couple of furlongs to run, but Buick was tracking him on New Science – and once he gave him the signal inside the final furlong, New Science pulled clear to triumph by a length.

Angel Bleu drifted slightly across the track at the finish, but still held on to second with Cachet third.

Appleby was a notable absentee from the winner’s enclosure as the Godolphin handler is having to self-isolate after being pinged by the Covid-19 app.

Assistant trainer Alex Merriam said: “That was very pleasing. He pleased us the first day at Yarmouth, which turned out to be a half-decent race (Chesham runner-up Reach For the Stars in second), and then he obviously just didn’t handle the ground at Royal Ascot.

“I think it was as simple as that – we’ve just written that one off. Will said on the way to the start he knew he wasn’t handling it.

“He jumped nicely here, travelled well – and I’ve just spoken to Charlie, who said we’ll be looking to step him up in grade now.

“Something like the Solario could be a possibility. His pedigree screams a mile – it’s a staying pedigree, but the way Will rode him there, he said to stick to seven for the time being.”

Desert Dreamer aiming to deliver in Ascot assignment

Stuart Williams’ Desert Dreamer will bid to return to winning ways in the Group Three Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes at Ascot.

The two-year-old began her career with successive victories at Newmarket before making the step up to Group Two level in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, where she finished 10th of 21 runners.

Two trips to the July course at Newmarket then followed, where she finished just a neck behind System in the Listed Empress Fillies’ Stakes and was then the runner-up again when losing out to Sandrine in the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes.

“We were very happy with her run in the Duchess Of Cambridge,” said Newmarket trainer Williams.

“She seems to have come out of the race really well, so we’re looking forward to running her on Saturday.

“She’s very tough and she takes her racing really well.

“I don’t think she’s ground dependent really. She obviously goes on fast ground, but she won on good ground earlier in the year so I wouldn’t mind it if it were good or even good to soft – it wouldn’t bother her at all.”

Karl Burke’s Attagirl also lines up after a convincing four-length victory in a Haydock maiden this month.

Her trainer expects further improvement.

“I think a lot of her,” said Burke.

“She’s a lovely filly, and I’m looking forward to seeing her run – she seems in great shape.

“She was impressive (at Haydock), and we think she can improve on that, so we’re very much looking forward to it.”

El Hadeeyah represents James Tate’s yard and will again cross paths with Desert Dreamer, who beat her into third when the two made their racecourse debuts in a Newmarket maiden in April.

She suffered two more defeats in May, but claimed her first victory on the all-weather track at Lingfield.

“She’s a filly we’ve always liked,” said Tate.

“She showed a lot of promise on her first run at Newmarket when she was third behind Desert Dreamer.

“Then she got lost a little bit on her next two starts, when the ground was softer than ideal, but she was back to form on the fast Polytrack at Lingfield last time.

“We thought we’d go black-type hunting in this race – six furlongs will suit her well if they don’t get too much rain.

“Fast ground should suit, and we’re hopeful for a good run.”

Richard Hannon’s System is well fancied, having beaten Desert Dreamer in the Empress Stakes, with Archie Watson’s Nazanin bringing a victory on her sole start at Newbury to the table.

Tom Dascombe’s Delmona is also engaged after her third place in the Super Sprint at Newbury last week.

Clive Cox’s Crazyland, Ismail Mohammed’s Zain Claudette, Rebecca Menzies’ winning Doncaster debutante Miss Calculation and George Boughey’s Sassy Rascal complete the field of 11.

Dreamloper bounces back for Valiant success

Dreamloper bounced back from Royal Ascot disappointment with an emphatic victory in the British Racecourses Join Sunflower Lanyard Scheme Valiant Stakes.

A winner at the Berkshire circuit last season, Ed Walker’s filly was sent off favourite to double her Ascot tally at last month’s showpiece meeting in the Kensington Palace Stakes, but could only finish in midfield.

Stepping up to Group Three level for the first time on her return to the same course, the four-year-old looked to have plenty on her plate, with the returning Fillies’ Mile runner-up Indigo Girl and the prolific Lights On among her rivals.

But ridden confidently by champion jockey Oisin Murphy, 13-2 chance Dreamloper moved smoothly onto the heels of the leaders passing the two-furlong marker before quickening up in brilliant style to leave the chasing pack trailing in her wake.

Lights On narrowly beat the slow-starting Waliyak to the runner-up spot, some four and a half lengths behind the impressive winner, with 11-8 favourite Indigo Girl only fourth on her belated seasonal reappearance.

Walker said: “We were so confident going into Royal Ascot – and we still have no idea what happened there, I’ve never found a reason. She just ran flat at a time the horses were running great. There were no excuses.

“Today she showed how good she could be. Oisin was very good on her as well.

“I must give a massive shout to Molly Stratton, who rides her every day. She’s not the easiest filly, and Molly has done a great job with her.”

Considering future targets, the trainer added: “We’ve no plan in mind, but she’s won a Group Three there – so it will be Group Twos and Group Ones now.

“The Sun Chariot could be a shout – but she’d have to take on (stablemate) Primo Bacio!”

Murphy was impressed with the filly’s performance, saying: “She was much more relaxed today, and Ed was thrilled with how she’d been going at home.

“It was a huge step up on what she’s achieved so far, but it was very satisfying to see her go and do that, with her owner here as well.

“Why not step up higher? I’m not sure what races are in mind, but you’d hope she could step up a level.”

Love and Adayar clash in classic renewal of King George contest

Superstar filly Love and Derby hero Adayar lock horns in a mouth-watering renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.

The midsummer highlight invariably throws up a clash of the generations – and this year’s renewal at Ascot on Saturday is no exception, with Classic form from last year and this put to the test.

Aidan O’Brien’s Love dominated her rivals when completing a Classic double in the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks last season, while victory in the Yorkshire Oaks was supposed to set her up for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The daughter of Galileo ultimately missed out on a trip to Paris – but having looked as good as ever when making a successful return in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, she is a hot favourite to provide her trainer with a fifth King George success.

O’Brien said: “We were delighted to be able to give her the run in the Prince of Wales. She ended up making the running, but she’s very straightforward and very genuine – and everything has gone well with her since.

“She’s very versatile – she had the pace to win a Guineas and seemed to get the Oaks trip very well.

“For any Flat horse, you want nice ground – and she’s a nice mover.”

The Ballydoyle handler has a second string to his bow in the form of Broome, who has won four of his six starts this season and was last seen breaking his duck at the top level in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud three weeks ago.

Broome (left) joins stablemate Love in the King George
Broome (left) joins stablemate Love in the King George (PA)

“He’s been running very well all year and gets a mile and a half well,” the trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“He loves to bowl along. In an ideal world you’d like to get a lead, but he is a horse who likes an even tempo. We’d be delighted if someone gave him a lead – if not he’d bowl along himself, I suppose.

“He’s in good form and seems to have come out of his last race well.”

Adayar was the least fancied of three runners for Charlie Appleby in last month’s premier Classic, but could hardly have been more impressive in the hands of Adam Kirby.

That form has been boosted by stablemate Hurricane Lane, who has landed both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris since finishing third at Epsom – giving Appleby hope Adayar can become the first horse since Galileo 20 years ago to complete the Derby-King George double.

He said: “It hasn’t been done since Galileo, so to take Adayar there is a huge occasion.

“What surprised us at Epsom was the turn of foot he showed halfway up the run-in, because we’d never seen it before. Post-race we analysed it, and Hurricane Lane probably wouldn’t have been able to quicken like Adayar did.

“We’ve seen what St Mark’s Basilica did for that generation in the Eclipse at Sandown, and now the three-year-olds go into the big-boy division over a mile and a half.

“I’d love to think he’s still developing. It will be interesting to see what the paddock watchers say on Saturday – but he looks fantastic, and I’d be confident if you didn’t know who he was you couldn’t pick him out as a three-year-old among the older horses.”

The other three-year-old in the six-strong field for the Qipco British Champions Series contest is the Martyn Meade-trained Lone Eagle, who was denied in the shadows of the post by Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby a month ago.

Lone Eagle (left) fights out the finish to the Irish Derby with Hurricane Lane
Lone Eagle (left) fights out the finish to the Irish Derby with Hurricane Lane (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

With his rider Frankie Dettori bidding to add to a record tally of seven King George wins, hopes are high that Lone Eagle can etch his name on the illustrious roll of honour.

Meade said: “It’s all systems go, and we hope he can go one place better (than in the Irish Derby), but if we learned anything at the Curragh it was to put up with disappointment.

“It was just the worst thing, getting done on the line. He was so far clear two out, and we were just about reaching for the champagne at the furlong marker, so it was hard to bear.”

Mishriff enjoyed a hugely lucrative start to 2021 – completing a big-race international double with victories in the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic.

He had to make do with minor honours in third on his return from a break in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks ago, but is expected to strip fitter for the run.

Thady Gosden, who trains Mishriff in partnership with his father John, said: “He’s doing well. It’s obviously a tough race – most of the top horses around seem to be heading there.

“He’s come on for his run at Sandown and goes there in good enough form.

“He obviously ran in February and March, and it’s a long time to keep them going all season, so we thought we best give him a break before the summer.”

Motakhayyel leads hunt for International honours

Motakhayyel heads Shadwell Estate’s three-pronged attack, along with Danyah and Aldaary, on the Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot.

The five-year-old, trained by Richard Hannon, was impressive when recording the second of his back-to-back victories in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket two weeks ago.

However, he has to defy top weight of 9st 13lb on Saturday, including a 3lb penalty for his three-and-a-half-length demolition of 17 rivals.

“He was incredibly impressive the other day, with a lot of weight on his back,” said Shadwell’s racing manager Angus Gold.

“He killed the race, and it was probably his best ever run. Let’s hope he can back it up.

“He’s obviously got a lot of weight again – but he’s a star horse and has been an absolute gem for us.”

Danyah ran a good race when runner-up at Royal Ascot and will try to go one better back at the Berkshire track
Danyah was runner-up at Royal Ascot and will try to go one better back at the Berkshire track (Dan Abraham/PA)

Danyah, trained by Owen Burrows, has been placed in three big handicaps this season, the latest coming in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in which he was second to Highfield Princess.

Gold said: “He’s very consistent. He ran a good race at the Royal meeting and deserves to win a big one.

“He wouldn’t mind a drop of rain if that appeared on Saturday. He’s a nice, solid horse.”

The William Haggas-trained Aldaary was not thought to be at his best when only fifth in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.

“He looked a really progressive horse last year,” said Gold.

“He won his first two starts very impressively, both on soft ground – (but) I don’t think he necessarily needs that.

“With hindsight, I think William and his team felt he wasn’t quite bouncing at the Royal meeting. He didn’t run a bad race. We just feel he’s a bit better than that.

“William has freshened him up, and he worked very well the other day. Let’s see how he gets on. There was talk of going to Goodwood, but William feels at the moment seven furlongs is probably the right trip for him.”

Dance Fever returned to form with victory at Leicester, on his second start following 11 months off the track.

The Clive Cox-trained four-year-old has a 3lb penalty for that success, but connections are expecting a good show as long as any rain showers are not too heavy.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him run,” said Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owner Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds.

“He’s only 3lb higher than when he won at Leicester last time, and the form has been boosted since.

“We always thought he’s well handicapped, but he’s never had any luck with the weather. It always seems to rain when we want to run him in a big one.

“There are thunderstorms forecast. A bit of rain would be fine, (but) we wouldn’t want a washout.

“He’s handicapped to go close. He was meant to have a run before Royal Ascot – but it was so wet in May we couldn’t run him, and Ascot was a case of blowing the cobwebs away.

“He clearly needed it more than we expected him to, and it was good to see him back next time.

“He’s near the fancied horses. Hopefully he’ll go really well. He ran well at this meeting last year. We’ll be very hopeful he’ll be competitive, as long as the ground doesn’t turn soft.”

Hugo Palmer would like to see some rain for Acquitted.

“He’s been threatening to win one of these big handicaps, and I think he’s got one in him,” said the Newmarket trainer.

“He’d need rain to run, but that does look probable. We just don’t know how much.

“Good ground, we’ve absolutely no problem. If it stays good to firm he won’t run.”

Charlie Appleby is optimistic New Science can put his poor Royal Ascot run on soft ground behind him, with a big performance in the Pat Eddery Stakes.

The Lope De Vega colt was only seventh behind Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes, but had looked a bright prospect when making a winning debut at Yarmouth in May.

He had Reach For The Moon a length and a half in second place that day, and that horse occupied the same position in the Chesham, just half a length behind the winner.

“He was disappointing, but it was very soft ground at Ascot last time,” said Appleby.

“John’s (Gosden) horse (Reach For The Moon) went on to finish second in the Chesham, and we finished down the field, but William (Buick) said he wasn’t happy even going to post on the ground.

“We’ve put a line through it. His homework has been good since – I’m pleased with his preparation, and if he can bounce back to his Yarmouth maiden form he’s a major player.”

Opposition includes the Tom Dascombe-trained Mr McCann, who was fourth in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, George Boughey’s Cachet, third in Newmarket’s Empress Stakes, and smooth Salisbury scorer Like A Lion, trained by William Muir and Chris Grassick.

Destiny Queen victory delights Baker

George Baker was delighted as Destiny Queen made a winning debut in the John Guest Racing British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes at Ascot.

Baker’s Surrey yard is not known for winners first time out, and Destiny Queen was sent off a 28-1 chance.

But the daughter of Al Wukair travelled sweetly for Pat Cosgrave – and when Pulcheria dropped away, she pulled two lengths clear of Loquace.

Baker said: “We never over-cook our two-year-olds – and as a result, we do have an average record because of the way we do things, but then we have horses who go on and have lovely, long careers.

“This filly, it’s such a cliché, but she’s always been on my mind as a three-year-old. I just wanted to get experience into her, maybe just one run today because she’s got to grow into her frame.

“I’ve always loved her, and that is a massive bonus. I’ve been with Pat Cosgrave a long time, and he doesn’t get over-excited very often. But he was excited by that – as am I.

“I know this isn’t D-Day, which is why it’s exciting. I know what I hope she might be, but I didn’t expect to see it today. There are some nice targets for fillies like her, but we’ll probably put her away and run her in the Guineas!”

Richard Hannon won the Anders Foundation British EBF Crocker Bulteel Maiden Stakes for the sixth time in seven years as Ehraz justified 4-9 favouritism with the minimum of fuss.

A valuable race for its type, only horses who had not run more than once could chase the £11,000 first prize – and the result was never really in any doubt.

Jim Crowley had the armchair ride, and said: “He was pretty impressive. He’s a smashing horse.

“He’s by Showcasing, so will be just as effective on good to soft ground as well. He has a lovely temperament.

“When I rode him work early on he felt like a seven-furlong horse, but he’s getting quicker with racing.

“We’ve had some lovely Showcasings – and he’s another.”

Paddy Power gave Ehraz a 33-1 quote for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Speedo Boy (8-1) had been winless on the Flat for three years since his victory in the John Guest Racing Brown Jack Stakes in 2018, but he clearly thrives at this time of year – and duly regained his title in this competitive handicap.

Speedo Boy and William Buick won the John Guest Racing Brown Jack Handicap at Ascot
Speedo Boy and William Buick won the John Guest Racing Brown Jack Handicap at Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

William Buick was determined not to let Silvestre de Sousa get loose on the front end, on bottom weight and favourite Star Caliber, and led two furlongs out en route to victory by two and three-quarter lengths.

Trainer Ian Williams said: “He hadn’t actually won for three years. He’s had a good hurdling career in the interim, but it’s great to have him back.

“He’ll probably come back for the Shergar Cup – he obviously likes it here.”

Mountain Peak (7-1) secured his ninth career win, in the nick of time when prevailing by a head in the Rotary Club Of Ascot Handicap.

Trainer Ed Walker, who also won the feature Valiant Stakes with Dreamloper, felt the race was set up perfectly for Mountain Peak – with Caspian Prince and Bedford Flyer going off like the clappers.

“God, they went fast but it was fun to watch – it was set up so well for him,” said Walker.

“He needs the ground as fast as possible, and he needs a good strong pace.”

Henry Candy’s Alfred Boucher (11-2) was rewarded after a string of consistent efforts when just edging out Grand Bazaar by a short head in the John Guest Racing Handicap.

“The trainer has finally realised he gets a mile and a half!” said Candy.

“He’s incredibly game, because he’s only a pony but he’s got a huge stride and a huge heart – and he wants to do it.

“He’s been unlucky a couple of times – the people that have ridden him have got a little too far back, and he just hasn’t quite got there, but David (Probert) gave him a cracking ride today. Hopefully the handicapper doesn’t go mad.”

Probert doubled up in the closing Berenberg October Club Supporting Cares Family Fillies’ Handicap, on the Michael Dods-trained Havagomecca (13-2).