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Blue Cup to step up in search of Ebor riches

Royal Ascot fourth Blue Cup is on target for the Sky Bet Ebor at York next week.

The David Menuisier-trained five-year-old put up a career-best in the Wolferton Stakes and will try a trip beyond a mile and quarter for the first time in the £500,000 feature on the Knavesmire.

The Pulborough handler said: “The Ebor is a punt because he has never been further than a mile and two, but when he switches off he travels very sweet, so I don’t see why he couldn’t stay further.

“I would rather try now, before he’ll be too high in the weights, so this will be our last possible opportunity to run in a race like the Ebor.

Blue Cup powers home in the rain at Epsom
Blue Cup powers home in the rain at Epsom (Mike Egerton/Jockey Club)

“Despite the trip, you know they are going to go a good pace with 22 runners, which is why we think the Ebor is the right race to try him over further. I think it will be interesting to see how we fare.”

Formerly trained in France, Blue Cup has progressed well for his new yard and Menuisier is keen to put a line through his run in the Steventon Stakes at Newbury, where he was last of the eight runners.

He said: “The ground was too quick. He got away with it at Royal Ascot and at Newbury he travelled well, but when he came under pressure he didn’t find anything.

“He wasn’t able to put his best foot forward there, but he came out of the race absolutely fine and it turned out to be a very good race. There was no shame in defeat, especially considering he couldn’t let himself down.”

Reflecting on his Wolferton performance, Menuisier added: “The form of the race is very strong having finished just in front of Euchen Glen, who is a proven Group horse. As we all know, the Wolferton is a better race than a Listed race. I think he’ll be competitive later on in ‘normal’ Listed races and Group Threes.”

Wonderful Tonight (right) is being aimed towards the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
Wonderful Tonight (right) is being aimed towards the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (John Walton/PA)

As well as Blue Cup, Menuisier could be in action at the meeting with stable star Wonderful Tonight – and any rain would be welcome.

He said: “If the whole meeting could be run on soft ground, it would suit me well!

“In an ideal world, we could do with a bit of rain for Blue Cup. I also have Migration set to run in the mile-and-a-quarter handicap on the Saturday and Wonderful Tonight holds an entry in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

“We have York and a couple of French options for her. We will go wherever we think suits best.

“She’s in good form and has come out of Goodwood (Lillie Langtry Stakes) very well. If the ground is on the easy side at York, the Yorkshire Oaks is definitely a race we are bearing in mind.”

Oscula in Royal Ascot picture after continuing golden run of Boughey juveniles

Royal Ascot could be the next port of call for Oscula following an impressive victory in the Cazoo Woodcote EBF Stakes at Epsom.

Third on her racecourse debut at Kempton last month, the Nick Bradley Racing-owned filly went a couple of places better at Brighton five days later to earn herself a step up in class in the opening race on Oaks day.

A quick start enabled apprentice rider Mark Crehan to navigate the 15-2 chance to the front and it was clear with a couple of furlongs still to run that her rivals would struggle to peg her back.

Flaming Rib did best of those attempting to close the gap, but Oscula passed the post three lengths the good – providing trainer George Boughey with yet another juvenile winner this season.

“It was a pretty good performance, I think,” said the Newmarket handler.

“Her work had been good and we intentionally took her to Brighton before coming here to give her a chance to come down a hill.

“We didn’t really have Royal Ascot aspirations before then. We thought we might go for the Woodcote and then go to the Empress Stakes at Newmarket, but Mark got off the horse at Brighton – he has ridden a lot of our two-year-olds this year – and he was very bullish.

“She’s by Galileo Gold and there’s plenty of stamina her pedigree – I think she will get a mile. She’s a long filly who is still quite immature and hasn’t really come in her summer coat yet – she’s got a lot of upside.”

Boughey added: “We’ll have a chat to Nick and see what the owners want to do, but the Albany Stakes (at Royal Ascot) has got to be a consideration.

“She made her debut at Kempton, five days later she won at Brighton and then 11 days later she’s done that day.

“It would be a pretty quick back-up from a big day like today, but we’ll certainly be looking at it.”

A delighted Crehan said: “She’s like an older horse, nothing bothers her. She went there lovely and came back even better.

“She handled Brighton well and that was the idea. If she handled Brighton she’d handle Epsom and she’s done that.

Mark Crehan and George Boughey celebrate
Mark Crehan and George Boughey celebrate (Mike Egerton/Jockey Club)

“I got racing early, but you can get away with that here. She’s very game. She keeps finding for you.

“I didn’t expect her to win that well. She’s certainly improving.”

Of a winner on Oaks day, Crehan, who claims 5lb, added: “I can’t explain (what it means). I only had one winner last year. All credit goes to my boss – he’s been very, very good to me. I can’t believe it.”

Hollie Doyle steered Corazon Espinado to his fourth win on the Downs in the Coral ‘Beaten By A Length’ Free Bet Handicap.

Corazon Espinado and Hollie Doyle after winning again at Epsom
Corazon Espinado and Hollie Doyle after winning again at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

Trained locally by Simon Dow, the 12-1 shot raced on the speed and comfortably pulled three and a half lengths clear of Hortzadar.

Dow said: “His stable is just across the road – he’s incredible.

“He loves Lingfield and he loves Epsom. It’s a tremendous achievement for the little horse to win on Oaks day twice.

“The draw and the easing ground was against us, so we were a little cautious – but he goes round there like he’s on rails.

“There aren’t enough superlatives for Hollie – it’s always a privilege to have her.”

Doyle said: “Everything went to plan, though he was over-racing early on. Franny (Norton, on Overwrite) and I had it pretty easy on the front end.

“He’s such a course specialist I just let go of his head coming down Tattenham Corner and he took me into the race beautifully.”

Blue Cup was a winner for Oisin Murphy
Blue Cup was a winner for Oisin Murphy (John Walton/PA)

Blue Cup came from the back of the field to win the Cazoo Handicap for Oisin Murphy and David Menuisier.

Data Protection and Dream With Me were involved in a protracted duel up front, building up a 10-length lead at one point before their exertions started to tell in the final couple of furlongs.

The field switched across the track to race up the nearside rail for the first time, as conditions continued to worsen, and Murphy took full advantage of the better ground – delivering his mount with around a furlong to run.

Blue Cup pulled further clear inside the distance, relishing every yard to come home five and a half lengths in front as the 9-2 favourite.

Victory Chime was second, with the game Data Protection taking third.

Murphy said: “I wasn’t sure how far the leaders had got in front of me.

“The kickback is obviously very bad, and it’s hard to see with the conditions.

“This horse isn’t easy. They’ve taken the ring bit off, which is a more severe bit, and put a very plain bit in his mouth – and he relaxed super today.

“David Menuisier is a very good trainer, and I think he’s found the key to this fella.

“I didn’t expect them to (come up the stands rail), but I thought it may happen at some stage today – so it was always a possibility.”

James Doyle guides Rhoscolyn home
James Doyle guides Rhoscolyn home (John Walton/PA)

Rhoscolyn completed a treble in smooth fashion under James Doyle in the Cazoo Derby Festival Handicap.

David Meara’s three-year-old burst through the pack to challenge long-time leader Paws For Thought over a furlong out.

Quickening nicely, the 9-2 winner soon had the race sewn up and crossed the line with a handy advantage over Shelir in second and On A Session in third.

O’Meara said: “We deliberated at length at Beverley a couple of runs back whether to run him on soft ground. We weren’t sure if he’d handle it, but we took a chance and he seems to enjoy it.

“He looks a very progressive horse. I thought today was a great performance.

“At Beverley and Goodwood he made the running and had everything his own way. Today he was in behind and was off the bridle a long way out.

“I didn’t think he’d find and finish off like he had done in his two previous races, but he showed a different quality today.

“He had form on quicker ground before he came to us. He seems to like these turning tracks and seven furlongs so I wonder if he could make up into a Lennox (Stakes at Goodwood) horse, maybe?

“It looked today like he could make that next step.”