Armory makes it look easy in Huxley Stakes

Armory proved a class above his rivals as he made a successful start to his campaign in the Melodi Media Huxley Stakes at Chester, with a step back up to the highest level next on the agenda.

The Galileo colt brought some top-class form to the table from last season, having finished fourth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Tattersalls Gold Cup, third in the Irish Champion Stakes and second to former stablemate Sir Dragonet in the Cox Plate in Australia.

He was the 6-5 favourite to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a third victory in this Group Two contest – and after settling at the rear of the four-strong field for much of the race, quickly found top gear under Ryan Moore in the straight to leave his rivals toiling.

Sangarius filled the runner-up spot, beaten three lengths by the impressive winner.

Armory (left) sweeps to the front
Armory (left) sweeps to the front (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

O’Brien said: “We were delighted. He’s really matured.

“I suppose what he has is an unbelievable turn of foot, which is a great thing in a horse because you don’t mind if they go fast or they go slow, as he quickens very well.

“He’s done very well over the winter, he had a lovely run in Australia last year but things didn’t really work out for him so we’re delighted.

“We were thinking after this he might go for the Tattersalls Gold Cup or the Prince of Wales’s, but probably the Prince of Wales’s.

“He has plenty of pace, but we always thought he’d get 10 furlongs – when you have a horse who quickens like that it’s a bonus, and Ryan gave him a lovely ride.”

Moore said: “I was very happy with him. He was a high-class two-year-old.

“He has form on soft ground, but when it’s quicker he can show his turn of foot. It was a steady race today, a messy race but he’s got a really good change of gear.

“He’s very talented. I don’t know what the plan but he’s won a Group Two there and he’s already been second in a Cox Plate, (so) he’s entitled to take his place at a higher level.”

Sangarius camp eye clear run

Sangarius kicks off what connections hope will be a more straightforward campaign than his last in the Melodi Media Huxley Stakes at Chester.

The son of Kingman looked destined for the top after running out an impressive winner of the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019 – but he has been seen in competitive action just twice since.

While there was promise in his fourth-placed finish in a Group Three won by Lord North at Haydock in June, Sangarius did not run again until December, when he got the better of Bangkok and Dubai Warrior in a thrilling finish to the Quebec Stakes at Lingfield.

Having had a second wind operation during the winter, Sir Michael Stoute’s charge steps up to Group Two level on Friday’s return to turf on the Roodee.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner-breeders Juddmonte, said: “Sangarius had a bit of disjointed season last year, but he actually came back and produced a pretty smart performance when he won at Lingfield.

“We need to get him rolling and get a clean run with him this year, if we can.

“He certainly has talent, so let’s hope things go well for him this season.”

Bangkok lands the Easter Classic at Lingfield
Bangkok lands the Easter Classic at Lingfield (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Sangarius renews rivalry with Bangkok, who was beaten a nose in the Quebec Stakes.

Since then, Andrew Balding’s five-year-old has returned to Lingfield to win February’s Winter Derby Trial and the Easter Classic on Good Friday.

Aidan O’Brien saddles the high-class Armory, who last season finished fourth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Tattersalls Gold Cup, third in the Irish Champion Stakes and rounded off his year by finishing second to former stablemate Sir Dragonet in the Cox Plate.

Jockey Ryan Moore told Betfair: “With Japan going for the Ormonde, we rely on Armory here and he looks the stand-out on form, even though Sangarius and Bangkok are very good horses in their own right, and the first-named could prove troublesome here.

“My colt handles soft ground – even if a quicker surface would suit him even better – he ran a great race when third in Irish Champion and then found only his former stablemate Sir Dragonet too good in the Cox Plate.

“He is a very classy horse and the one to beat on form, though no more rain would help.”

Brian Meehan’s course-and-distance winner Palavecino and Bharani Star, from Peter Chapple-Hyam’s yard, complete the quintet.