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Adayar’s Classic claims on the line in Lingfield Derby Trial

Adayar gets the opportunity to stake his claim for Epsom glory in the Novibet Derby Trial at Lingfield on Saturday.

Trainer Charlie Appleby began the week with several hopes for the Cazoo Derby on June 5.

But with Wirko and Yibir failing to run up to expectations in the Chester Vase and Dee Stakes earlier in the week, the Moulton Paddocks handler will be hoping Adayar emerges as a legitimate contender for next month’s premier Classic with victory this weekend.

The Frankel colt, who bolted up by nine lengths on his final juvenile start at Nottingham, made a promising start to his three-year-old campaign when runner-up to Alenquer in the Classic Trial at Sandown a couple of weeks ago.

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Appleby said: “Adayar is proven on soft ground, although I’m always a little bit hesitant when you win a soft ground maiden. You could just have been the class horse in the race and on any ground you’d win.

“Everyone is testing their (Derby) credentials – and with the other two going to Chester, we thought we’d let Adayar go to Lingfield, where he should get nice, easy ground as well.”

Despite being forced to rule out Epsom favourite High Definition due to unsatisfactory blood results, Aidan O’Brien still fires a twin assault in his bid for a sixth victory in the Listed contest.

Kyprios claimed his second win from three starts at Cork recently, while Tipperary scorer Carlisle Bay makes his first appearance since finishing a close-up third in the Group Three Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown in October.

O’Brien, whose Anthony Van Dyck completed the Lingfield-Epsom double two years ago, told Sky Sports Racing: “Carlisle Bay is a tough, solid horse who we always thought would get a mile and a half well.

“He’s a little bit lazy and a little bit laid back, but that’s the way he’s always been and he’s been working nicely.

“Kyprios is a horse we always liked last year. He had a nice run in a winners’ race in Cork a couple of weeks ago and we always thought he would get a mile and a half well as well.

Etonian also runs in the Lingfield Derby Trial
Etonian also runs in the Lingfield Derby Trial (David Davies/PA)

“Both are in good form, we think both will get the trip well and we think both will come on from their runs.”

Richard Hannon’s Etonian and the Andrew Balding-trained Recovery Run both have significant ground to make up on Adayar after finishing seventh and ninth respectively at Sandown last month.

Scope (Ralph Beckett) and Third Realm (Roger Varian) complete the seven-strong field.

Ontario latest Dee day contender for O’Brien

Ontario bids to continue Aidan O’Brien’s recent domination of the tote+ Biggest Dividends At tote.co.uk Dee Stakes at Chester on Thursday.

The Ballydoyle handler has saddled six of the last eight winners of the recognised Derby trial, with multiple Group One winner Circus Maximus landing the most recent renewal in 2019.

Although this year’s candidate has managed only one victory from eight previous starts, he has run some fine races in defeat, perhaps most notably finishing a close-up third behind Derby prospect and subsequent Group One scorer Mac Swiney in the Futurity Stakes.

Ontario made a promising start to the new campaign when third behind the Queen’s Tactical in the Free Handicap at Newmarket three weeks ago, and steps up to an extended mile and a quarter for the first time on the Roodee.

Ontario will be ridden by Ryan Moore, who told Betfair: “He looks to hold pretty strong claims.

“He finished a good third in what appears a decent Free Handicap on his return, and his pedigree would give you every encouragement that the step up from seven to 10 furlongs or so here will suit this Galileo colt a lot better.

“He finished second in a Royal Lodge at two, while he also finished third to Mac Swiney in soft ground in the Futurity at the Curragh, so you’d have to be pretty hopeful, though his draw (stall seven) could have been better, obviously.”

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The likely favourite for the Listed contest is the Charlie Appleby-trained Yibir, who was narrowly beaten in the Sandown Classic Trial on his reappearance.

Yibir is a high-class prospect for Charlie Appleby
Yibir is a high-class prospect for Charlie Appleby (Tim Goode/PA)

A full-brother to top-class racemare Wild Illusion, the son of Dubawi is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time.

“He’s sharpened up for that run at Sandown quite noticeably at home,” said Appleby.

“We’re putting the cheekpieces on him, just because he’s got similar characteristics to his sister – it’s not that he’s ungenuine, it’s just to keep him focussed.

“We didn’t want to put the cheekpieces on and step him up to a mile and a half at the same time, so we opted to keep him to 10 furlongs.”

Sir Michael Stoute trained the last horse to complete the Dee Stakes-Derby double in 2003 victor Kris Kin.

This year the master of Freemason Lodge is represented by Maximal, who filled the runner-up spot behind Appleby’s Hurricane Lane in a competitive conditions race at Newbury last month.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner-breeders Juddmonte, said: “He ran a good race at Newbury and has come out of it well – he’s been straightforward since.

“It’s a good spot for him. He’s a neat horse and I think he will handle the track.

“He will need to have come on as this looks a pretty competitive race all round, I would say.

“The going is a little bit of an unknown, but he is by Galileo, so hopefully he’ll cope with it.”

The most inexperienced horse in the field with just two runs under his belt is Andrew Balding’s Foxes Tales.

Second on his racecourse debut at Kempton in December, the Zoffany colt went one better on his three-year-old debut at Newbury.

The trainer’s wife, Anna Lisa Balding, said: “He’s a really nice horse, Foxes Tales – he’s so good looking. He’s done nothing wrong so far and has physically gone the right way.

“Andrew has been quite patient with him and the jockeys who ride him at home really like him.”

Earlswood (Johnny Murtagh), El Drama (Roger Varian) and outsider Luther Cee (Henry Spiller) are the other hopefuls.

Wirko expected to relish Chester Vase challenge

Wirko bids to cement his Cazoo Derby claims with victory in the Chester Vase.

Charlie Appleby’s colt is already guaranteed a place in the premier Classic, having made a successful start to his campaign in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom a fortnight ago – a Listed event which carries automatic qualification for the Epsom showpiece on June 5.

But with the Kingman colt having only run three times to date, Appleby is keen to give him more experience and views Wednesday’s Group Three contest as an ideal stepping-stone to Epsom.

He said: “He’s got his golden ticket to Epsom, but firstly we want to give him some more experience and secondly, we hope the step up to a mile and a half at Chester will see further improvement.

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“He did all his best work in the last couple of hundred (yards) at Epsom and he’s a horse who we think, with his pedigree and the way he races, should be suited by a step up in trip.

“He’s by Kingman, but he does have a German pedigree on the dam’s side, so one would hope he’ll be able to handle softer ground.”

Wirko is one of two Godolphin-owned runners along with John and Thady Gosden’s Law Of The Sea, the mount of Frankie Dettori.

The son of Derby hero Golden Horn is two from two this year, most recently impressing in a novice event at Leicester.

Thady Gosden said: “He’s won well on his last two starts, firstly at Kempton and then at Leicester last time.

“He’s a nice horse who has already won over a mile and a half and he should handle the soft ground.

“It’s a tough race, but hopefully he’ll run well.”

Aidan O’Brien at Chester
Aidan O’Brien at Chester (David Davies/PA)

Aidan O’Brien has won the Chester Vase on a record nine occasions and declared three runners for this year’s renewal.

However, with both likely favourite Sir Lamorak and San Martino taken out on account of unsuitable ground, the Ballydoyle handler will rely on Sandhurst, who steps up in distance after after finishing sixth in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago.

Andrew Balding’s Youth Spirit, the Richard Hannon-trained Fancy Man and Pleasant Man from Roger Charlton’s yard complete the line-up.

Master Of The Seas aiming for potential Guineas rematch in St James’s Palace

The St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot remains the likely next objective for Master Of The Seas following his narrow defeat in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The Craven Stakes winner came within a short head of providing trainer Charlie Appleby with his first victory in the Rowley Mile Classic – losing out to Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare in a thrilling finish on Saturday.

Appleby, who saddled two winners and five seconds across the two-day Guineas Festival, reports his horses to have recovered well from their weekend exertions.

He said: “They’ve all come out of their races well. The whole team look good – they all had an easy canter this (Tuesday) morning, and everybody is very happy with them.

“It was a great weekend for racing, and we were delighted with the way all ours ran. We had a touch of seconditis – but as I always say to the team, I’d rather finish second than second-last.

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“We know the horses are in the right races and they’re in good condition – and if we keep knocking on the door those doors will open.”

Master Of The Seas fared best of three runners in the Qipco-sponsored Guineas for Appleby, with Naval Crown finishing fourth and One Ruler sixth.

Naval Crown appears set to join Master Of The Seas at the Royal meeting, with the seven-furlong Jersey Stakes viewed as a suitable target, while a tilt at the Derby will be considered for One Ruler.

“Master Of The Seas has had three runs this years now, so he deserves to have a little break,” Appleby added.

“Hopefully we’ll turn up at Ascot with some fresh legs. We’ll look forward to potentially having a rematch with the winner in the St James’s Palace.

“Naval Crown has got a couple of options, and I would say most likely we will look towards the Jersey with him. He’s got plenty of boot, but to be fair, two of his best runs have been over the mile – beating Master Of The Seas at Meydan, and in the Guineas.

“He’s got two solid mile performances behind him now, but it does look the most logical option for him to head to the Jersey.”

One Ruler could be Derby-bound
One Ruler could be Derby-bound (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The make-up of the trainer’s Derby squad is likely to be much clearer in the coming days, with Wirko and Yibir heading to Chester, Adayar bound for the Lingfield Derby Trial and Hurricane Lane possibly lining up for the Dante at York.

Appleby said: “Everyone is testing their (Derby) credentials over the next week, with the races at Chester followed by Lingfield at the weekend and then on to York next week.

“One Ruler is in the mix, for sure. The way he’s bounced out of the Guineas, I’m very pleased with him.

“It’s always hard to say where your horse is going to go immediately after the race, until you start to see how they’ve come out of it.

“The signs with all of them have been very good, so conversations will be had during the course of the week, firming up some plans for these horses.”

Wirko is Vase choice for Appleby

Charlie Appleby’s Wirko will put his Derby credentials on the line in the Chester Vase.

The Kingman colt booked himself a golden ticket into the Classic when winning the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom last time out.

He is Appleby’s chosen runner on Wednesday – with stablemates Adayar and Yibir, second and third in Sandown’s Classic Trial, both still possible for the Dee Stakes later in the week.

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Aidan O’Brien has declared three in the eight-strong Vase field.

Sir Lamorak looks his first string, based on recent wins at Dundalk and Leopardstown. Sandhurst, sixth in the Craven, and San Martino will also represent Ballydoyle.

Fresh from his 1000 Guineas success, Frankie Dettori is chasing more big-race glory on Law Of The Sea for John and Thady Gosden. The Golden Horn colt has been very impressive the last twice.

Andrew Balding’s Youth Spirit and Richard Hannon’s Fancy Man, fourth and fifth in the Feilden Stakes on their return, take each other on again – while Oisin Murphy rides Pleasant Man for Roger Charlton.

Seven will go to post for the Weatherbys Epassport Cheshire Oaks, headed by Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain.

While she may not have the usual profile of a Classic winner, having had seven runs at two, she held her form remarkably well.

Second to 1000 Guineas third Fev Rover in a Listed race at Sandown in July, having won her first two outings, she was also second in the Sweet Solera and the May Hill before running very creditably to be fourth in the Fillies’ Mile on her final start – with Guineas winner Mother Earth just in front of her.

Roger Varian will be represented by the unbeaten Zeyaadah at Chester
Roger Varian will be represented by the unbeaten Zeyaadah at Chester (Mike Egerton/PA)

Roger Varian’s Zeyaadah is unbeaten in three starts to date, including a Listed event which had its form boosted on Sunday at Newmarket by runner-up Mystery Angel.

The Gosdens will be hoping to get some valuable black type into Darlectable You, second on both her outings to date. She is by Dubawi and out of Dar Re Mi, making her a full sister to three-time Group One winner Too Darn Hot.

Ryan Moore has been booked by Donnacha O’Brien to ride Nicest, a debut winner who was fifth in a Group Three on her only other outing.

Aidan O’Brien runs La Joconde, a Frankel filly who is still a maiden after five starts.

Fozzy Stack’s Ahandfulofsummers and Hugo Palmer’s Quenelle D’Or complete the field.

Mohaafeth roars into Derby reckoning at Newmarket

Mohaafeth was slashed in price for the Cazoo Derby after barely coming out of second gear in winning the Betfair Newmarket Stakes.

An impressive winner in handicap company at the Craven meeting, William Haggas had suggested he may stay in that grade with the London Gold Cup at Newbury mooted.

However, he found himself upped to Listed class against three smart rivals back on the Rowley Mile – and was simply in a different class.

Jim Crowley moved his mount into a challenging position going into the dip and he simply breezed clear to win unextended by five lengths.

Coral cut the Frankel colt to 7-1 from 33s for the Epsom Classic.

Haggas said of the 2-1 favourite: “Maybe the second horse (Secret Protector) didn’t run his race, but it’s very exciting and nice to see him win like that.

“He’s improving, that’s the most important thing. He’s bred to be good and is looking better each time he runs.

“We don’t know whether he’ll stay, but the Derby is a very tempting proposition. He’s won a trial, and we won another trial at Sandown with another horse (Alenquer).

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“This horse is quicker – the other one is a grinder. He (Alenquer) will go for the Dante and we’ll see where he is, because he’s not in the Derby and it’s a big supplementary. He’ll go to York and if he shapes up well he’ll go (for the Derby).

“This horse is getting his confidence. Jim said he thought when he pulled him out he went too early, but that’s because the horse took him there.

“A mile and a quarter is definitely fine. We’ve never been sure if he’ll stay a mile and a half, but there is only one (Derby) and why not have a go – what else is there? Jim said ‘have we time to run in the Dante’, but we haven’t.

“I think quick ground is quite important to him.”

Creative Force (left) continued his progression
Creative Force (left) continued his progression (John Walton/PA)

Creative Force will have his sights raised after claiming a third victory from four career starts at Headquarters.

Impressive on his racecourse debut on the Rowley Mile last season, the Dubawi colt disappointed on his only subsequent juvenile appearance in the the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

However, having been gelded during the off-season, Charlie Appleby’s charge made a winning reappearance at the Craven meeting last month and was the 4-5 favourite to follow up in the Read Ryan Moore On Betting Betfair Handicap.

William Buick’s mount travelled strongly for much of the six-furlong contest and picked up well once meeting the rising ground to keep Perotto at bay by a length.

Appleby said: “He’s progressive and we’ll try to step up into a bit of black type now.

“Unfortunately the Commonwealth Cup (at Royal Ascot) isn’t an option because he’s got no undercarriage!

“He’s very professional and travels well and he’s honest.

“I haven’t got any immediate plans, but as William says, he deserves a crack at a Group race now.”

Bell Rock (left) on his way to victory at Newmarket
Bell Rock (left) on his way to victory at Newmarket (John Walton/PA)

The Andrew Balding-trained Bell Rock (13-2) notched a third course win in the ‘My Oddsboost’ On Betfair Suffolk Stakes.

The keen-going Maydanny ensured the nine-furlong event was a sound test, with Bell Rock picking him off late to prevail by two and a half lengths under 5lb claimer William Carver.

Balding said: “He likes it here, but I don’t think there are too many races for him.

“He’ll be in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, but we’ll keep options open.

“At some stage we’ll have another go at a mile and a quarter, possibly in the Wolferton.”

Chil Chil streaks clear under Silvestre de Sousa
Chil Chil streaks clear under Silvestre de Sousa (John Walton/PA)

Chil Chil (11-4 joint-favourite) provided Balding with a double when bolting up by three and a half lengths in the Betfair Exchange Handicap.

Having finished a neck behind Count Otto at the Craven meeting, she turned that form round in no uncertain terms under Silvestre de Sousa.

Balding said: “She’s a class mare. She just needs to relax and fast ground – she’s got a lot of style.

“The Wokingham was always the aim and I think that’s where we’ll go.

“I’d hope she can pick up some black type at some stage this year.”

Lazuli rules in Palace House thriller

Lazuli just held off the late lunge of Came From The Dark to win the Betfair Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.

Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old was conceding 3lb to the rest of the field, courtesy of a Group Three win at Newbury in September.

In that respect the performance can be upgraded and he was having his first run for 100 days having finished third behind Charlie Hills’ Equilateral in Dubai.

There was no let up in the pace throughout, with Glamorous Anna showing her predictable dash to halfway where she left Emaraaty Ana in front.

Lazuli just got home for William Buick and Charlie Appleby
Lazuli just got home for William Buick and Charlie Appleby (John Walton/PA)

William Buick moved up ominously well on Lazuli looking likely to put the race to bed, but Emaraaty Ana refused to wilt and made him pull out all the stops.

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In behind those two was Hollie Doyle on Ed Walker’s Came From The Dark – who has well and truly put to bed the notion he must have soft ground – but the door was closed.

When eventually there was sufficient room Came From The Dark flew home, but the line came just in time for the 3-1 favourite who held on by a head with the same back to Emaraaty Ana.

The winner was given a 12-1 quote for the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot by Coral.

Appleby said: “He ran a good race in Dubai to finish third behind Equilateral and he was going to run on Super Saturday, but I had to scratch him on the morning of the race because of a bruised foot.

“We maintained the training in Dubai after that little setback and he came off the plane fit and well.

“We toyed with this race, but with the penalty we weren’t completely sold on the idea and thought about going to Haydock (for the Temple Stakes).

“Once we made the entry for this, I was half confident to take them on as he loves this ground.

“He’s a real professional little sprinter.”

Jockey William Buick is interviewed on Lazuli
Jockey William Buick is interviewed on Lazuli (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Buick fully expects Lazuli to be tackling bigger prizes in due course.

He said: “I don’t think this is his level – I think he’s better. He’s lightly raced and is getting the hang of it.

“He was always going to come forward from the run today and he’s an out-and-out speedball. Hopefully he’ll take a step up in grade, wherever that may come.

“I didn’t think particularly handled the track very well – he didn’t really come down the dip.

“We’ll wait and see how he acquits himself on a flat, level track and fast ground – those are his ideal conditions.

“There’s options for him. There’s the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot down the line. That might be a bit punchy, but we’ll see.

“He’s not quite the finished article yet, so I wouldn’t want to be putting a level on him.”

Creative Force too strong at Newmarket

Creative Force will have his sights raised after claiming a third victory from four career starts at Newmarket.

Impressive on his racecourse debut on the Rowley Mile last season, the Dubawi colt disappointed on his only subsequent juvenile appearance in the the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

However, having been gelded during the off-season, Charlie Appleby’s charge made a winning reappearance at the Craven meeting last month and was the 4-5 favourite to follow up in the Read Ryan Moore On Betting Betfair Handicap.

William Buick’s mount travelled strongly for much of the six-furlong contest and picked up well once meeting the rising ground to keep Perotto at bay by a length.

Appleby said: “He’s progressive and we’ll try to step up into a bit of black type now.

“Unfortunately the Commonwealth Cup (at Royal Ascot) isn’t an option because he’s got no undercarriage!

“He’s very professional and travels well and he’s honest.

“I haven’t got any immediate plans, but as William says, he deserves a crack at a Group race now.”

Bell Rock (left) on his way to victory at Newmarket
Bell Rock (left) on his way to victory at Newmarket (John Walton/PA)

The Andrew Balding-trained Bell Rock (13-2) notched a third course win in the ‘My Oddsboost’ On Betfair Suffolk Stakes.

The keen-going Maydanny ensured the nine-furlong event was a sound test, with Bell Rock picking him off late to prevail by two and a half lengths under 5lb claimer William Carver.

Balding said: “He likes it here, but I don’t think there are too many races for him.

“He’ll be in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, but we’ll keep options open.

“At some stage we’ll have another go at a mile and a quarter, possibly in the Wolferton.”

Chil Chil streaks clear under Silvestre de Sousa
Chil Chil streaks clear under Silvestre de Sousa (John Walton/PA)

Chil Chil (11-4 joint-favourite) provided Balding with a double when bolting up by three and a half lengths in the Betfair Exchange Handicap.

Having finished a neck behind Count Otto at the Craven meeting, she turned that form round in no uncertain terms under Silvestre de Sousa.

Balding said: “She’s a class mare. She just needs to relax and fast ground – she’s got a lot of style.

“The Wokingham was always the aim and I think that’s where we’ll go.

“I’d hope she can pick up some black type at some stage this year.”

Appleby happy with strong hand in Guineas

Charlie Appleby is finding it tough to split Master Of The Seas and One Ruler in their respective bids for Qipco 2000 Guineas glory.

The Newmarket handler would love to win the Rowley Mile Classic for the first time on Saturday – and feels his two leading contenders give him a strong chance of doing so.

William Buick has sided with Master Of The Seas following his course-and-distance triumph in the Craven Stakes little over a fortnight ago, leaving James Doyle to pick up the ride on One Ruler on his seasonal reappearance.

“I’m delighted with the way Master Of The Seas has come out of the Craven. He’s shown us his wellness during the week – William sat on him on Wednesday and was pleased with him,” said Appleby.

“He ticks a lot of the boxes going into the weekend. I couldn’t be any happier with him and I’m looking forward to seeing him run.

“We’re taking on the same conditions as in the Craven in terms of it’s going to be quick ground again. We know he handles that and handles the track, and he saw the trip out well, so I always felt it was going to be hard for William to get off him.”

One Ruler has not been seen in competitive action since filling the runner-up spot in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in October, but is reported to be in rude health by his trainer.

Appleby added: “I’m pleased with One Ruler’s preparation. He looks great and he’s ready.

One Ruler winning the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket
One Ruler winning the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket (Alan Crowhurst/PA)
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“James is excited to be riding him. He was in a good position, waiting on William’s decision, and he was always going to be happy to jump on either horse.

“They’re two different types of horses. Master Of The Seas is a very honest traveller on the bridle, whereas One Ruler is a horse who warms into his race.

“I’m excited to see One Ruler have his first start as a three-year-old. The two horses have got different run styles, but in respect of the calibre of each horse, I think they’re hard to split.”

Appleby has a third string to his bow in outsider Naval Crown.

The son of Dubawi inflicted a shock defeat on Master Of The Seas in Dubai earlier in the year, before being beaten a neck by the Queen’s Tactical on his return to Newmarket in the Free Handicap.

Appleby feels Naval Crown could outrun his odds, saying: “We left him in the Guineas for a reason. Master Of The Seas was entitled to come forward from the run at Meydan and did come forward, but Naval Crown beat him fair and square.

“He’s been a rock solid little performer who brings an abundance of experience to the table, and I think the step back up to a mile is going to suit him.”

The Charlie Hills-trained Mutasaabeq was mightily impressive when winning a conditions race at the Craven meeting, which ultimately led to connections supplementing for the Guineas earlier this week.

“He seems to have come out of his Newmarket race really well. Jim (Crowley) came and sat on him on Wednesday and said he felt very relaxed and in good shape,” said Hills.

“We were trying to nurse him through his career, but his ability has got him where he is now. He’s only had two runs, but they’ve both been at Newmarket – so he’s got more experience than most on a course like that.

“It’s always encouraging to see horses win the way he did, but he’d done nothing wrong at all in his homework. He was working with the very nice horses at home and worked well with them. Winning by six lengths is nice to see – but did it surprise me? Possibly not.

“It goes without saying he becomes a very valuable proposition should he win a Guineas, being out of a Guineas winner.”

Richard Hannon is keen on the chances of Chindit, whose only defeat in five starts came when disappointing in the Dewhurst over seven furlongs here in October.

Chindit (left) was a narrow winner of the Greenham Stakes at Newbury
Chindit (left) was a narrow winner of the Greenham Stakes at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Wootton Bassett colt got back on the winning trail on his return in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury a fortnight ago.

“I think he’s a Group One horse now – if he wins the Guineas or not – and they are hard to find,” said Hannon.

“I feel he’s quite intelligent, he knows when he’s done enough. What pleased me in the Greenham was it looked like he was only getting going when he crossed the line. He looks like he wants a mile, which is great.

“He’s done all his winning on flat tracks like Ascot, Newbury and Doncaster – and this is vastly different. I don’t know if he enjoyed the Dewhurst, but I’m fairly sure that was down to the ground.

“The race will have turned him on, I think, just got him going. He travels a lot easier now at home.”

Sir Ron Priestley switches back for Jockey Club challenge

Mark Johnston is fascinated to see how Sir Ron Priestley fares when dropped back down in trip for the Betfair Exchange Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

The lightly-raced five-year-old has tackled a mile and a three-quarters in his last three races, including when runner-up in the 2019 St Leger at Doncaster.

He was out for 571 days after that fine effort, but made a triumphant return to action in the Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham three and a half weeks ago.

Sir Ron Priestley is seen as a contender for staying honours this year, but Johnston believes the Australia entire is not devoid of speed.

“As Sir Ron Priestley’s last two runs have been over a mile and six, we were thinking of stepping him up to two miles plus, but he’s not short of speed and looks to have at least run up to form at Nottingham,” he said.

“It will be very interesting to see him back over a mile and a half.”

The Middleham handler also saddles Thunderous, who makes a quick reappearance after running below par in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown last week.

Johnston added: “Thunderous was very disappointing the other day at Sandown, but there was no obvious reason for it so we might not shy away from bringing him back quickly.”

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Pyledriver was third in last year’s St Leger and William Muir, who now trains in partnership with Chris Grassick, is looking forward to getting the stable star back on track.

“Everything has been brilliant right the way through. These are the days you look forward to,” said Muir.

“The ground has never worried me for this horse. He’s such a light mover, he only just touches the ground. The ground doesn’t really concern me.

“If you look through his form, he won on firm ground at Salisbury first time out at two, then he won a Listed race on very soft ground at Haydock.

“He’s come on stronger physically. I’ve not wound him up for this as his only race of the season – this is a starting point.”

Pyledriver returns to action
Pyledriver returns to action (David Davies/PA)

Though failing to feature in last year’s Derby, a return to Epsom and Group One company is on the agenda for Pyledriver, with Muir earmarking the Coronation Cup on June 4 as his next port of call after Newmarket.

He added: “Without a shadow of a doubt he will go back to Epsom for the Coronation Cup, as long as he is OK.

“When he came down the straight after getting hampered early on, he handled it OK. The track there doesn’t worry me in the slightest.”

The William Haggas-trained pair of Al Zaraqaan and Pablo Escobarr complete the small but select line-up, with the former reverting to turf following a hat-trick of wins on the all-weather.

Charlie Appleby expects Lazuli to prove a tough nut to crack in the Betfair Palace House Stakes.

The winner of a Group Three at Newbury on his final start of 2020, the gelded son of Dubawi ran once at Meydan over the winter – finishing third behind Equilateral in the Dubai Dash.

“I’m delighted with him and five furlongs is his trip,” said Appleby.

“He only had the one start at Meydan. He met with a minor setback after that, which meant he missed his second start there.

“His preparation for Saturday has been great, he looks great and he’s fresh and well.

“I think he’s the one they’ve got to beat.”

Judicial has been a fine servant to connections
Judicial has been a fine servant to connections (Dan Abraham/PA)

Judicial is reported to be in good form as he makes a fourth successive appearance in the Group Three contest.

Julie Camacho’s consistent sprinter has finished second twice and seventh so far and has been giving encouraging signs he will run another big race on Saturday.

Camacho’s husband and assistant, Steve Brown, said of the nine-year-old: “He’s in good form and he’s training well. We’ve seen nothing to suggest he’s slowing down. He’s had a smooth prep and we’re looking forward to it.

“He’s got some positive history in this race and it’s always a nice place to start him. There are obviously some very useful horses in there, but nothing that stands out as being a lot better than him.

“It will be nice to see him out on the track again and we hope he retains his enthusiasm for racing.”

Robert Cowell’s trio of Arecibo, Aljady and Dubai Station also feature in a nine-strong field.

Dante date for Hurricane Lane

Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten colt Hurricane Lane will put his Classic credentials on the line in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.

Unbeaten in two outings, the son of Frankel comfortably got the better of a much more experienced rival at Newbury on just his second outing.

That display persuaded Appleby that it was worth stepping up in class with a colt – who was recently added to the Cazoo Derby field.

“The Dante is usually a very good trial for the Derby, and Hurricane Lane is worthy of having a crack at it,” said Appleby.

The Newmarket trainer has plenty of depth to his three-year-old squad this season. He is set to be doubly represented in the 2000 Guineas by Master Of The Seas and One Ruler, and supplied the second and third in the Sandown Classic Trial in Adayar and Yibir.

“On all evidence so far, Adayar is going to appreciate stepping up in trip, which could be in the Lingfield Derby Trial,” he told www.godolphin.com.

“But he doesn’t want the ground too quick, so he has the Dante at York as alternative.

“I was very pleased with Yibir’s seasonal debut. He is only going to get better when he gets to a mile and a half, which he will get in the Chester Vase, his next race.

“I also plan to send Wirko (Epsom’s Blue Riband Trial winner) to Chester for the Dee Stakes. It will be more good experience for him. The Epsom race was a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Derby — we already know he can handle the track.

La Barrosa, who chased home Master Of The Seas in the Craven, will head for the French Guineas.

Appleby added: “He has done well since the Craven, and it is best to put a line though his previous run in France in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud (when fifth). He did not like the heavy ground.

“We are very encouraged by the signs so far and excited with what we have. We are always looking for the next three-year-old champion, and we are very happy the way this group are developing.”

Wirko books Derby ticket with late Epsom burst

Charlie Appleby was delighted to see Wirko earn himself a place in the Cazoo Derby with a last-gasp victory in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom.

An intriguing field of eight runners went to post for the Listed contest, with Richard Fahey’s Pythagoras leading the octet for much of the 10-furlong journey.

John and Thady Gosden’s Uncle Bryn, a son of Derby hero Sea The Stars, was the 11-10 favourite following successive wide-margin wins on the all-weather – and briefly hit the front passing the two-furlong marker under Frankie Dettori.

However, he was mastered late on by Martyn Meade-trained filly Technique, before 11-2 chance Wirko – making his turf debut in the hands of William Buick – picked them both up to claim top honours by a head.

Kingman colt Wirko, who had previously finished second at Wolverhampton before going one better at Kempton in early November, was not entered for the Derby – but is now guaranteed a starting place after landing this ‘win and you’re in’ contest.

Appleby said: “I felt that every horse in the field today had similar credentials and as it’s turned out, the first three home were the least experienced in the field.

“Our horse had wintered well and we felt 10 furlongs was going to suit him.

Charlie Appleby was delighted with Wirko
Charlie Appleby was delighted with Wirko (Simon Cooper/PA)
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“He has a great staying pedigree on the dam’s side, so he ticks a few nice boxes (for the Derby).

“He was one of the horses we hadn’t entered for the Derby, so we thought that he could go and earn his stripes into the race today.”

The Moulton Paddocks handler plans to give Wirko – who was introduced at 16-1 for the premier Classic by Betfair – one more run before returning to Epsom on the first Saturday in June.

He added: “He’s in the Derby now and we’ll try to get one more run into him to give him some more experience.

“Whether he goes to Chester or Lingfield, we’ll see just have to see – we’ll see how the horse comes out of the race and take it from there.

“As you know, experience is invaluable going to Epsom, especially in the Derby”

Wirko’s victory continues a fantastic start to the season for Appleby, particularly with his Classic contingent.

Just last week he saddled the first two home in the Craven Stakes in Master Of The Seas and La Barrosa, while One Ruler heads ante-post lists for the 2000 Guineas.

Master Of The Seas (right) winning the Craven Stakes
Master Of The Seas (right) winning the Craven Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I was hopeful that we had a nice bunch of three-year-olds,” said Appleby.

“We might not have had a Group One-winning two-year-old last season, but I just felt with the type of horse we had, we had a lot of strength in depth in the three-year-old department this year.

“They’ve all wintered well and had the pedigrees to do well from two to three – and be three-year-olds, more importantly.

“So far it’s gone well and long may it continue – it’s a long season ahead of us!”

Like Wirko, Technique is set to be back at Epsom next month, for the Oaks.

Technique (pink colours) is set for the Oaks
Technique (pink colours) is set for the Oaks (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Meade said: “It looked as though she handled the track and we always thought she would. She is good at home and does everything you want. I just loved the way she just cruised around the side there and coped with the bends. The whole idea was to try her on this track.

“I think we will come back here. I don’t think we will go anywhere in between as we can do it all at home. Why risk her doing anything else?”

Third-home Uncle Bryn will improve for the experience, according to Gosden, who said: “He was coltish in proceedings and looking at everything. He will come on mentally for the run.”

Hurricane Lane stays in Derby contention at Newbury

Hurricane Lane further strengthened Charlie Appleby’s potential Classic hand with a gutsy success at Newbury on Friday.

Appleby has enjoyed a fruitful week with his three-year-old colts, with Highland Avenue and Secret Protector filling the first two places in Tuesday’s Feilden Stakes at Newmarket, before Master Of The Seas and La Barrosa fought out the finish of Thursday’s Craven Stakes at Headquarters.

Hurricane Lane was a winner over a mile on heavy ground on his only juvenile outing and William Buick clearly had no concerns about his stamina ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup British EBF Conditions Stakes.

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Sent off at 11-4, the son of Frankel was smartly away and Buick was happy to set the gallop, with favourite Maximal tracking his early move along with outsider Tasman Bay as the other four runners never really got competitive.

Maximal looked likely to forge on at one stage, but the winner found plenty without Buick having to be overly serious on him, edging a length in front at the line, with the Sir Mark Todd-trained Tasman Bay staying on well enough to be beaten two and a quarter lengths in third.

Hurricane Lane is now a general 25-1 chance for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom in June, and Appleby’s assistant, Alex Merriam, said: “Charlie was happy with the colt. He seemed to outstay them and it was only his second run. He’s a big physical specimen and we hope he will keep improving.

“We will take it steady away and see how our mile-and-a-quarter and mile-and-a-half horses run over the next few weeks. But he’s in the Derby.”

Mithras (16-5 favourite) was also shortened up for a possible Classic bid after winning the Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Handicap to initiate a double for John and Thady Gosden, plus Frankie Dettori.

He is now a 20-1 shot for the Qipco 2000 Guineas on May 1 after prevailing by a neck over Saint Lawrence.

The Gosden-Dettori brace was completed by Gloria Mundi (4-1) who finished with a flourish to lift the second division of the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Maiden Fillies’ Stakes in a three-way photo with Hollywood Lady and Sea Karats.

The same team had been denied in the first division when Darlectable You (5-6 favourite) was beaten a neck by Aristia (20-1) for Richard Hannon and Sean Levey.

Elysian Flame forwarded his claims for the Chester Cup with a surprise 25-1 victory in the Compton Beauchamp Estates Ltd Silver Bar Handicap.

The Gosdens’ Almighwar was sent off the 6-4 favourite, but Elysian Flame was incredibly game for trainer Mick Easterby and jockey Nathan Evans, clinging on to victory by a neck.

The winner is a best-priced 14-1 shot for the Roodee feature, while Almighwar is the 10-1 favourite.

‘Class act’ Master Of The Seas sets sail in Craven

Master Of The Seas got the better of stablemate La Barrosa as Godolphin dominated the finish to the bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

Master Of The Seas had looked every inch a top-class colt in the making when winning the Superlative Stakes on the July Course last summer, and while he could only finish fourth stepped up to Group One level for the National Stakes in Ireland he again showed his ability there.

Although beaten at odds-on by fellow Charlie Appleby-trained colt Naval Crown at Meydan in February, the son of Dubawi was the 11-4 favourite to recoup those losses on the Rowley Mile and ultimately got the job done in pleasing fashion.

Sporting a hood for the first time, Master Of The Seas was keen during the early stages before settling into a rhythm.

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His supporters will have been sweating at the halfway stage, with the market leader seemingly stuck behind a wall of horses – but once switched wide for racing room, William Buick’s mount quickly found top gear to run down La Barrosa and score by three-quarters of a length.

Coral cut Master Of The Seas to 12-1 from 16-1 for next month’s Qipco 2000 Guineas.

Appleby said: “I’ll be honest, it wasn’t quite how we planned it as the plan was for La Barrosa to pop out and set a nice gallop and maybe come up the middle to give everyone racing room, but it didn’t materialise.

“He ended up just over-racing, but he was a bit fresh as well. I was pleased with how he ran.

“Master Of The Seas was the class act in the race, I was never disappointed with him in Meydan as our eyes were on a European campaign.

Master Of The Seas impressed in the Craven
Master Of The Seas impressed in the Craven (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“William had to ask him a few questions there, he had to go through the gears going into the dip which is hard for horses, but he’s very well balanced. He picked up well and went through the line strong.

“It was very pleasing by the pair of them. The hood helped Master Of The Seas settle and we’ll probably keep it on for the Guineas.

“I’ve been very pleased with One Ruler’s prep as well so it’s a nice position to be in to have two or three nice chances for the Guineas.”

He added: “We’ll see how this horse comes out of this race before William decides who to ride, but it might be hard to get off a Craven winner, he’s probably achieved more and has match fitness on his side. The Craven is a fantastic trial. We’ll chunter away and try to come up with the right horses.

“France for La Barrosa might come into it, we’ll just have to see. That was quick ground today, but they didn’t mind it.

“As that was La Barrosa’s first run of the season he’s entitled to come forward. Whether they’ll get closer, I don’t mind as long as one is in front.

“Master Of The Seas is speedier than One Ruler, he’s a bigger, scopier type. I think 10 furlongs will be his trip in time. I have been delighted with One Ruler’s prep though, and didn’t feel the need to run him in a trial.”

Master Of The Seas ready for Craven mission

What should prove an informative bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday has attracted a field of 10, with Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien both holding strong hands in the Group Three contest.

Heading the market is the Appleby-trained Master Of The Seas, who was fourth in a strong renewal of the National Stakes at the Curragh in September and reappeared at Meydan in February.

He was beaten at odds-on there, but confidence appears high in the Appleby camp that he has progressed in the manner required. Interestingly, in 2018 the same yard’s Masar was beaten in Dubai before going on to win the Craven, finish third in the 2000 Guineas and land the Derby.

Appleby said: “He is a horse we went to Dubai with, knowing that our aim was to be here for the Craven. As we know it is a long season, whatever he was going to do out there, we were hopeful that we would see plenty of improvement – which we have seen.

“He has come out of the race well and has done well. He shipped back into England a week ago, and we are looking forward to the Craven.

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“He has got some great form. He won his maiden here, then he won the Superlative on the July Course and he wasn’t disgraced in the National Stakes, where I feel he didn’t show his true running as he was very keen early on.

“He was keen in Meydan, and we are going to apply the hood in the race as he has gone to post with one on to the start in his last race. Hopefully that will help him switch off and do it the right way round. This was always going to be our plan. The mile suits him, and he was doing his best work towards the end at Meydan and he kept on nicely towards the line.”

Stablemate La Barrosa picked up Group Three honours last year in the Tattersalls Stakes over seven furlongs of the Rowley Mile, before trying Group One company in the Criterium International, finishing fifth of six to O’Brien’s Van Gogh.

La Barrosa remains unexposed
La Barrosa remains unexposed (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Appleby said: “One box he does tick is that he is already a course winner, and the mile will suit him. I think you can put a line through that last run of his in France as it was in very soft ground at the backend of the year. His preparation has gone faultlessly. He looks great.

“They are two horses that both bring Group-race form into it – and on two-year-old form they are the two picks. It got a bit tight on the rail in the Group Three here, but he got the gap and showed a bit of class and acceleration to get his head on front.”

Khartoum (Ryan Moore) and Sandhurst (Frankie Dettori) represent Ballydoyle hopes. Both had two starts as juveniles, each winning the second of them.

Away from the Appleby and O’Brien runners, the Simon and Ed Crisford-trained Royal Air Force is interesting – stepping up markedly in class after winning a novice event at Yarmouth in June, having not been seen since.

He was impressive there, however, and Ed Crisford said: “I walked the track on Tuesday, and the ground was lovely, while the mile will suit him. I think it is a very ambitious task as it looks a hard race, but he has been doing well and he deserves to be there.

“He was impressive at Yarmouth – and although it was only a small-field novice, he did it nicely, and Ryan (Moore) liked him that day.

“He has been off for a long time as he had a little setback – we were going to run at the end of the year but we decided not to.

“He appears to have strengthened up as a three-year-old and hopefully he will improve again. I’m sure he will run a decent race and make a good account of himself.”

The field is completed by Devilwala (Ralph Beckett), Mystery Smiles (Andrew Balding), The Rosstafarian (Hugo Palmer), Akmaam (Brian Meehan) and Imperial Sands (Archie Watson).