Eldrickjones out to break duck in July Stakes

Royal Ascot runner-up Eldrickjones bids to go one better in the Tattersalls July Stakes at Newmarket.

Beaten just a nose on his racecourse debut at Thirsk in early June, the Cotai Glory colt justified the bold decision made by his connections to run in the Coventry Stakes less than a fortnight later – beating all bar the impressive winner Berkshire Shadow.

That performance came as no surprise to Nick Bradley, who manages the syndicate which owns the Roger Fell-trained juvenile, and hopes are high for his latest Group Two assignment on Thursday.

“It looks no stronger than the Coventry, and some might say it’s a little bit weaker,” said Bradley.

“He’s in very good form. Danny Tudhope did a bit of work on him last week and was buzzing him – he thinks he’s a very smart horse.

“Unfortunately Danny can’t ride on Thursday, because he’s got to ride at Doncaster. But he goes there with a massive chance, I think.”

Another colt who went close to winning at the Royal meeting is the Bryan Smart-trained Project Dante, who was beaten just a head and a nose into third in the Norfolk Stakes.

That form has been well advertised since, with the runner-up Go Bears Go landing the Railway Stakes at the Curragh, and Smart is keen to see how Project Dante fares stepping up to six furlongs for the first time.

“The horse proved his worth (at Ascot), and we like him a lot,” Smart told Sky Sports Racing.

“He did a nice piece of work on Friday and had a nice little blow on Tuesday morning – Graham Lee rode him and was thrilled with him. He said he feels as good as if not better than he did before Royal Ascot.

“I think he’ll get the trip, because he settles and you can put him in most places. I think he’ll settle well, and Graham will just work away.”

Ebro River (left) in winning action at Sandown
Ebro River (left) in winning action at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Hugo Palmer saddles both Dig Two and Ebro River, who finished second in the Windsor Castle Stakes and fifth in the Coventry respectively on their latest appearances.

He said: “They both ran very well at Ascot. It’s always tricky having two colts in the same race, but I feel they both deserve to take their chance. They’ve both really thrived since Ascot – I’ve been delighted with them.

“The weather forecast is very tricky. Ebro River is a winner of a Listed race on soft ground, so any significant rain wouldn’t hinder his chances, but I think he proved at Ascot he’s also fine on top of the ground.

“Dig Two definitely wants quick ground, so if the word soft started to appear in the going description we would probably take him out.

“Having walked the track, I think the ground will probably be somewhere between good and good to firm, in which case they will both run.

“It’s too much to hope for a dead-heat, but I hope they’ll both run well.”

Asymmetric puts his unbeaten record on the line for Alan King, having followed up debut success at Goodwood with a clear-cut victory over this course and distance.

“He’s won his two races, and we have to find out if he’s up to this sort of level,” said the Barbury Castle trainer.

“We’ve been very happy with him at home, and it will be interesting. He’s always worked like a really smart two-year-old and has a great attitude. I genuinely wouldn’t know how good he is, but he does everything very easily at home.

“It is a big step up in class, but I think better ground should suit him, so we’ll see how we get on.”

Bradley delighted by Royal Ascot efforts

Nick Bradley reflected on Royal Ascot with pride after a busy and successful meeting for his eponymous racing partnerships.

The syndicate had entrants on all five days of the Royal meeting, with Eldrickjones coming closest to victory when finishing second behind Berkshire Shadow in the Group Two Coventry Stakes.

The son of Cotai Glory was beaten by a length and a quarter having started at huge odds of 66-1, and Bradley feels the Roger Fell-trained bay could have gone one better had luck been on his side.

“The two two-year-old colts ran really well, with Eldrickjones finishing second in the Coventry,” he said.

Eldrickjones (right) finishing second in the Coventry Stakes
Eldrickjones (right) finishing second in the Coventry Stakes (David Davies/PA)

“I think if you ran that race again and it worked out slightly differently, he’d probably win.”

Bradley’s other two-year-old colt was racecourse debutant Kaboo, who finished sixth in the Windsor Castle Stakes after finding himself at the centre of a huge gamble that saw him backed from 66-1 down to 15-2.

“That was an almighty debut to finish sixth,” Bradley said of the colt’s run.

“Again, I think if you ran that race on a different day he’d be finishing better than sixth.

“Both are exciting colts to take forwards. We’ve only got three two-year-old colts in training, so for two of them to run so well at Royal Ascot, it says a lot about what we’re trying to do.”

The syndicate enjoyed a third-placed finish in the Group Three Albany Stakes, a race they won last season with Dandalla, with George Boughey’s Oscula this time carrying the hopes of the partnership when galloping alone down the inside rail to cross the line two lengths behind the winner.

“We took a brave man’s tactic in that race, I sent both of them up the rail,” Bradley said of the tactics employed by Oscula and Hellomydarlin, his second runner in the contest.

“I said to the jockeys ‘if we get it right, you can claim the glory, if we get it wrong, it’s my fault’.

“I just thought, with the way the races were running previous to that, that the rail would be the place to be.

“We very nearly pulled it off. I think if we had won I would be smiling for a very long time, especially having won it the previous year.

“Mark (Crehan, jockey) gave her (Oscula) a great ride, she’s a filly that we didn’t pay a lot of money for competing against Dubawis and £400,000 yearlings.

“We were proud of her performance.”

Dandalla returned to the fixture after her success last year, this time taking aim at the Group One Commonwealth Cup and finishing fourth at 33-1 after failing to fire in previous runs at Newbury and Haydock.

Dandalla winning the Albany Stakes during the 2020 Royal meeting
Dandalla winning the Albany Stakes during the 2020 Royal meeting (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“Myself and Karl always had faith in Dandalla, we knew that the engine was still there,” Bradley said.

“It was just a case of getting things wrong at Haydock and we’ve put the record straight.

“To put the record straight in a race like the Commonwealth Cup was very rewarding. Fourth in a race like that, behind two rockets that finished first and second (Campanelle and Dragon Symbol), it’s probably a career best run.”

After a busy Royal Ascot the syndicate will now look forward to Newmarket’s July meeting as their next target.

“We have had runners there every day of the week, I think we took over 200 owners there in total,” said Bradley.

“It was rewarding and we’re now going to look forward to the next one and try to get things right for fixtures like the Newmarket July meeting.”