David Loughnane believes a reproduction of Go Bears Go’s Breeders’ Cup form will make him tough to beat in Wednesday’s Merriebelle Stables Commonwealth Cup Trial at Ascot.
The colt finished runner-up to Twilight Gleaming in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar on his last appearance, having won a novice on his debut at Ascot and finished runner-up in the Norfolk Stakes at the Royal meeting on his second appearance as a juvenile.
Victory in the Group Two Railway Stakes followed, after which the son of Kodi Bear was third in the Phoenix Stakes and fourth in the Middle Park – both Group One events.
With two good Ascot runs under his belt, Loughnane feels track experience will help the bay as he faces just four rivals in the five-furlong Group Three contest.
“I thought there would be more runners, but I’m not going to complain,” said the Shropshire handler.
“I’m very happy with him. He seems to have trained on from two to three, but until you run them you never know.
“He is in a good place and we have never been out of the first two at Ascot, and hopefully it will remain that way after Wednesday.
“He is favourite and rightly so. Clive Cox’s horse is a nice horse (Wings Of War), but he is obviously carrying a penalty which we don’t have to carry and, if he has trained on, he’ll be hard to beat, particularly if he runs up to his Breeders’ Cup form. I’m very happy with him at home and fingers crossed.”
Newbury’s Mill Reef Stakes first and second, Wings Of War and Hierarchy, lock horns again, with the latter horse last seen finishing sixth in the same Del Mar contest as Go Bears Go.
“Hierarchy ran very well at the Breeders’ Cup,” said trainer Hugo Palmer.
“He went very well and in the last 100 yards he just went pop and was beaten just over a length.
“Ascot will be his first run of the year. I think he’s trained on, I think he’s very well but he’s never been a ‘wow’ horse at home, he’s always just done enough, so we’ll have to find out on the racecourse.
“He was second in the Mill Reef and then wasn’t quite right. We took a blood test and his inflammatory markers were up.
“We gave him three days off, turned him out in a cage in a paddock in Newmarket and there clearly wasn’t much wrong with him at all as he managed to turn himself upside down and lacerate all four legs and then he had to have another week off.
“I think that’s what cost him a Breeders’ Cup victory.”
The Richard Hannon-trained Erhaz and Richard Spencer’s dual all-weather winner Space Cowboy complete the line-up.
Charlie Appleby saddles dual Meydan winner Valiant Prince in the Paradise Stakes, with the four-runner affair billed as a Queen Anne Stakes trial.
Intellogent, New Mandate and Sir Busker also go to post in that race, with Eve Johnson Houghton fielding Whistle And Flute in the Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes – a race she landed last year with subsequent Windsor Castle victor Chipotle.