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Hardwicke on horizon for Thunderous

Mark Johnston’s Thunderous may target the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot after finishing second behind Al Aasy in the Group Three Al Rayyan at Newbury.

The 2020 Dante winner was four lengths behind the impressive Al Aasy, who is set for the Coronation Cup next after following  up with ease for William Haggas on Saturday – having also comfortably taken the John Porter Stakes over course and distance on his seasonal debut.

Thunderous made much of the running and was left to race alone by the rail as his rivals stuck to the centre of the track.

Harry Herbert, managing director of ownership group Highclere Racing, reports the four-year-old in good form since – and already has his eyes on the Group Two Hardwicke next month.

“He’s come out of Newbury very well – that was a really good run, although he was obviously no match for the winner,” said Herbert.

Thunderous ridden by jockey Franny Norton (left) on their way to winning The Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York Racecourse
Thunderous and Franny Norton (left) on their way to winning the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York (Jeremy Phillips/PA)

“We’re really pleased with him, because he had to race alone on what was maybe the worst ground as the others came up the middle.

“He was passed by the (2019) Leger winner (Logician) and a couple of others – and then he came back.

“We were very happy with the run and we’re toying with the idea of running him next in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.”

Also pencilled in for the Royal meeting is Spycatcher, who was another Highclere runner to finish second at Newbury on Saturday – behind Creative Force in the Listed Carnarvon Stakes.

Trained by Karl Burke, the three-year-old could now step up in trip for the Group Three Jersey Stakes on the second day of Royal Ascot.

“That was really good run at Newbury from Spycatcher,” said Herbert.

“We think he’d probably be better over seven (furlongs), and having something to race. We had to make the running – which wasn’t ideal.

“We will be looking closely at the Jersey – that’s the likely scenario for him.

“I’ve seen him (since), and he looks really well. They’ve both (Spycatcher and Thunderous) taken their races really well and look a picture of health.”

After Highclere hit the crossbar twice at Newbury, Ascension recorded a 14-1 victory for them in the closing BetVictor Handicap.

Herbert confirmed the Roger Varian-trained grey is now likely to head to Royal Ascot too.

“Ascension will go to the Royal Hunt Cup,” he said.

“He’s in great form. He’s taken the race really well, and that race looks to be the right spot for him – so hopefully we’ll get a bit of luck, he’ll stay in one piece and we’ll be lining a few up for the Royal meeting.”

Another member of that Royal Ascot squad could be Ed Walker’s Parachute, last seen taking a mile-and-a-half handicap at Newmarket on May 2.

Herbert hopes the Sea The Stars colt will make the cut for the King George V Stakes, a contest Highclere have already won four times.

“That was a really good effort,” Herbert said of Parachute’s Newmarket performance.

Parachute, ridden by Tom Marquand ,wins the Betfair Weighed In Podcast Handicap ahead of Echo Point ridden by William Buick during 1000 Guineas Day at Newmarket
Parachute (left) wins the Betfair Weighed In Podcast Handicap at Newmarket (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He is rated 88 – so we will be heading to the King George V, the handicap at the Royal meeting, with him.

“We’ve been hoping we can get in. I think we will be right on the cusp, but hopefully we will.”

Parachute indicated he may have plenty of stamina with his all-the-way win at Newmarket, and Herbert added: “We’ll also take a look at the Queen’s Vase.

“He’s a really nice horse and hopefully one that will go on progressing.

“I think off that mark for the King George V, which is a race we’ve been fortunate enough to win four times, he certainly rings all the right bells.

“All that collateral form is good, and we’re hopeful that he will go on progressing and have an improving profile.”

Highclere team excited to chase Albany prize with Cachet

Eyecatching debut winner Cachet will head for Royal Ascot as she bids to net her owners another valuable bonus prize.

The George Boughey-trained filly was a five-and-a-half-length winner on her racecourse debut at Newmarket on Saturday when steered to victory by Nicola Currie.

A first UK winner for the sire Aclaim, the bay strode to a comfortable success in the Betway British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes at the weekend as Boughey’s fine run of stable form continued.

Cachet is owned by Highclere Racing, whose managing director Harry Herbert said: “She’s a gorgeous filly, she was bought at the breeze-ups and she worked very well going into that.

“George was hoping she’d run well but we never thought she’d win like that.”

The Group Thee Albany Stakes at the Royal meeting is next on the two-year-old’s agenda, a fixture that could prove particularly lucrative for the owners of the Craven Breeze-Up sale purchase.

Cachet has already bagged her connections a £15,000 bonus, with her debut victory earning her the reward as part of Tattersalls’ Craven Breeze Up Bonus Scheme, an initiative that pays out when any purchase from the sale triumphs in a two-year-old novice or maiden contest ranked at class four or above.

The auction house also offer a Royal Ascot/Group One bonus scheme worth £250,000, which promises £100,000 to the owners of the first horse purchased at the sale to win at Royal Ascot, with the vendor then allocated the remaining £25,000.

Victory in the Albany Stakes would secure the first half of the bonus, and a subsequent win in any juvenile European Group One event would then be rewarded with an additional sum of £125,000 – rounding the value of the bonus scheme up to £250,000.

“We will go straight to Royal Ascot with her for the Albany,” Herbert confirmed.

“She’s already won the £15,000 bonus for winning a class four race or better at Newmarket.

“The first breeze-up to win at the Royal meeting gets a big bonus, they talk of quarter of a million and I think it’s £100,000 to the owners.

“That’s very exciting, and then she might get another one if she could be the first one to win a Group One race.

“We’ll be going for all the bonuses, we were thrilled with her.

“She’s a gorgeous filly, a first winner for Aclaim.”

Cashew comes home in front at Windsor
Cashew comes home in front at Windsor (John Walton/PA)

Cachet is not to be confused to Cashew, another Boughey-trained filly who provided Highclere Racing with further juvenile success when victorious at Windsor on Monday evening under Ryan Moore.

“Confusingly, George also trains a filly called Cashew for us, who won at Windsor for on Monday night,” Herbert said.

“He’s going great guns with his two-year-olds and is obviously a very talented young trainer, so we’re delighted to have two two-year-old winners in our first season with him.”