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Cox hopes Supremacy can take high rank

Middle Park winner Supremacy is to spearhead an exciting crop of three-year-olds for Clive Cox this season.

Also an impressive winner of the Richmond Stakes last season, the Mehmas colt will be kept to sprinting trips – with the Commonwealth Cup his first major target as Cox contemplates the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot and the Sandy Lane at Haydock as starting points.

With Qipco 2000 Guineas candidate Nando Parrado and 1000 Guineas contender Isabella Giles also in the yard, Cox can not wait for the season to click into gear.

“I’m very pleased with all three of them,” he said.

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“Supremacy will stay at six furlongs, so we’re looking at the Pavilion, the normal sprinting route – with possibly the Sandy Lane en route to Royal Ascot and the Commonwealth.

“He’s wintered really well and looks very strong. I’m very pleased with him indeed.”

Of his Coventry Stakes winner, he said: “Nando has done very well after a good season last year, winning at Royal Ascot and then positive Group One performances in the Morny and the Lagardere.

Nando Parrado caused a 150-1 upset at Royal Ascot
Nando Parrado caused a 150-1 upset at Royal Ascot (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

“We’ll be looking at one of the trials for him – but I very much intend to run him in the Guineas, all being well.

“He does handle soft ground but won at Ascot on a quicker surface. I’m pleased with how he has done physically.

“He was a very able two-year-old who has done well over the winter so I see no reason why he can’t maintain that performance at the top level at three.”

Isabella Giles won the Rockfel Stakes by two lengths but disappointed on her final outing of the campaign. She will also be aimed at a Guineas trial.

Isabella Giles was impressive in the Rockfel Stakes
Isabella Giles was impressive in the Rockfel Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“The filly has done very well too – she’s done some nice work and is making good progress,” said Cox.

“I think she had a busy enough time in the autumn, and we probably ran her once too many by the time of the Fillies’ Mile, and she’d just gone off the boil.

“I would be very pleased with her now. She’s a Group Two winner at two, and her work is pleasing me at the moment to suggest we can look forward to what she does at three.

“It’s really nice to have the conversations we’re having at this stage, and we’re looking forward to more of them hopefully as the season progresses.”

Cox retains full faith in Nando Parrado

Clive Cox remains optimistic Nando Parrado can develop into 2000 Guineas contender next spring, despite his defeat in Paris on Sunday.

A shock 150-1 winner of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, the Kodiac colt went on to prove that effort was no fluke when runner-up to American challenger Campanelle in the Prix Morny at Deauville.

Nando Parrado was an odds-on favourite to claim Group One honours as he stepped up to seven furlongs for last weekend’s Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, but was beaten eight lengths into second place by Sealiway, in a race run in very testing ground.

Nando Parrado shot to prominence at Royal Ascot
Nando Parrado shot to prominence at Royal Ascot (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

Cox said: “Nando has come back from France well.

“It was very extreme conditions that we ran in. The winner obviously relished it and it was softer than we’d ever encountered before, but he’s come back fine and we still know we’ve got a proper horse to look forward to next year.

“We’ll put him away now and I very much hope that (2000 Guineas) will be the target.

“It was his first try over seven furlongs the other day and it was a little bit inconclusive with underfoot conditions as bad as they were and I’m sure he’ll stay a bit further next year.”

The Lambourn handler has enjoyed another excellent season with his two-year-olds, with the star of the show being Supremacy following his top-level win in last month’s Middle Park Stakes.

Cox added: “Supremacy has finished for the season, but we couldn’t be more pleased with his efforts and results this year.

“He’s put in some seriously top-class performances and it was great for him to sign off with a Group One.”

Nando expected to relish Parisian mud

Clive Cox reports Nando Parrado in fine form as he heads to the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp.

The Kodiac colt was a shock 150-1 winner of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, and his Lambourn trainer is full of hope for a big run with the ground in his favour on Sunday.

“I’m very pleased, because he is in excellent form, and it gives me confidence knowing that he will handle the conditions – that is a great plus, given the weather forecast,” said Cox.

“He has enjoyed a tremendous season already, with winning the Coventry and being second in the Morny. This a race that we are pleased to be stepping up to seven furlongs in.”

Mick Channon’s Cairn Gorm, who was eighth in the Morny, is the other British raider in a six-strong field.

“I was very pleased with him in the Morny, because it was very testing ground,” said Channon.

“He ran a nice race, but was clearly doing his best work in the closing stages – which is why we are stepping up to the seven on Sunday.

“I think his pedigree would suggest this will bring more out of him, especially on the dam’s side. He has had a good time between his races.“

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Fev Rover carries plenty of confidence in the Prix Marcel Boussac.

A Group Two winner at Deauville on her latest start, the Richard Fahey-trained filly is owned by Nick Bradley Racing 43 And Partner.

Bradley said: “She’s in serious form at home.

“I spoke to Richard (Fahey) on Friday morning, and she’s a lot more professional than when Ben (Curtis) last rode her at Sandown.

“We are drawn eight – which looks a good draw, bearing in mind (likely favourite) Pretty Gorgeous is drawn 14.”

Jean-Claude Rouget admits being surprised by Tawkeel, who bids to take her perfect record to six out of six in the Prix de l’Opera.

“She doesn’t share that characteristic that has bedevilled other members of the same family that I’ve trained, in the sense that they’ve made flying starts to their career – which they haven’t backed up,” he said.

“She, on the contrary, has done nothing but progress – and each time, she has astonished me. In the Opera, we will be seeking to maintain her unbeaten record.”

James Fanshawe’s Audarya caused an upset in the Group One Prix Jean Romanet on soft ground, but her trainer cannot be sure she will handle conditions at the weekend.

“It was very holding ground when she won the Romanet at Deauville,” said Fanshawe.

“I don’t think anyone can really judge how a horse is going to go on this ground until they get on it, though – because heavy ground at different courses always varies.

“She’s in good form. She obviously goes well on soft ground – whether she goes on what it will be, we’ll see on Sunday.”

John Quinn has no concerns about the ground for Safe Voyage in the Prix de la Foret.

The seven-year-old is the oldest horse in the field, but arrives in Paris on the back of winning a pair of Group Two contests.

“He is in great form,” said Quinn.

“Jason (Hart) knows him and rides him very well, so we are hoping he’ll run well and hope he can win.

“Soft ground is fine for him.”

Safe Voyage was fourth 12 months ago to the William Haggas-trained One Master, who goes for a third win in the race, while Andre Fabre’s Earthlight is among the strong opposition.

Nando Parrado all set for Lagardere

Clive Cox will aim to continue an excellent season with his juveniles when Nando Parrado runs in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp.

Cox had been considering a run in the Dewhurst with the shock Coventry Stakes winner, but the prospect of soft ground in Paris on Sunday has helped to make the decision for him.

As well as the Coventry Stakes, Cox has won the Middle Park and Richmond with Supremacy this season and the Rockfel with Isabella Giles.

“With the (wet) forecast, he’s actually going to travel to France on Sunday for the Lagardere,” Cox told Sky Sports Racing.

“He did a really good job winning the Coventry, and at that stage we were intent on looking further with him, and he then finished second in the Morny.

“The prospect of easy ground has lured us that way – and I’m very much looking forward to it, because he’s in excellent form.”

Cox was encouraged by Nando Parrado’s performance at Deauville last month.

“He was drawn next to a filly (Campanelle, the winner) in the Morny and was in the stalls a long time,” he added.

“Christophe Soumillon rode him and wanted to keep on the rail – quite rightly, he’s a world-class jockey and knew where he wanted to go – (and) it was a very pleasing run.

“The extra furlong will be really interesting, and I’m convinced it will be well up his street. We think and awful lot of him. He’s got a lot of class.

“We’ve got an amazing group of two-year-olds, one to dream about. I was very concerned at the beginning of the season when we weren’t sure when we’d resume – so I’m so pleased it’s all worked out.”

Monday Musings: He Who Dares…

In the event, I didn’t dress up for Royal Ascot, writes Tony Stafford. Lockdown Tuesday has become our day for Tesco shopping and Mrs S didn’t see any reason to alter the schedule even for a fixture she likes to visit once every year. She timed it nicely, so I was able to watch the first four races before setting off. I listened to Battaash and Nazeef, two of the endless stream of Hamdan/Jim Crowley winners, courtesy of John Hunt’s Radio Five Live Radio commentary, while the two-metre queue inched forward, and we were back just in time to see Blue Laureate trail the field for almost the entire 4,390 yards of the Ascot Stakes.

It would have been inconvenient on Tuesday, having to change out of Fashion Show week catwalk mode into car park waiting mufti halfway through the piece. So I didn’t bother.

Having missed it on Tuesday, the incentive to “Go Royal” after so many had already had their first-day home champagne parties lost its glister. Indeed that was more and more the case as the week progressed. By Thursday I was wondering how we had ever managed to get there at all in all those years. Driving across to pick up Harry and Alan; negotiating the M25; employing the well-worn but not generally-known short cuts like Watersplash Lane which leads down to the Golden Gates and doing all that to arrive by midday for a coffee in the box and a 2.30 start was always a real trial. Now we had to be ready for a start at 1.15 and I found it was almost impossible even without the travel.

Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” and that adage, first formulated in the 1940’s, certainly mirrors my experience of the long weeks of isolation during lockdown.

The normal Royal Ascot routine post racing always required a quick departure after the last and a brisk stroll past the community singing as the bulk of the crowd, unaware of the potential horrors of delaying, would be left behind. Talking of the singing, I wonder if the obvious changing tide of popular sentiment in the UK will ever allow such jingoistic throw-back melodies to be allowed in future, a thought that symbolically coincided with the death of Dame Vera Lynn last week at the age of 103. Even when we got back to the car park before the queues started in earnest, the M25 was still the major obstacle, and I rarely managed to get home much before 8 p.m.

One nonagenarian who would have managed to find elements of the cut-down menu to enjoy was Her Majesty, at 94 still vigorous and, in Dame Vera terms, a relative spring chicken. While denied for the first time since the War of the full Ascot experience of which she is always such a centre-piece for so many, including Mrs S., she had to find a private way of celebrating the success of her home-bred colt Tactical. How odd that she – I presume that’s where she remained after the Trooping the Colour transposition the previous weekend – was in Windsor Castle at the precise moment that her colt was winning the eponymous event!

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Her carriage routinely passes along our Watersplash Lane/ Cheapside Village route. No doubt the bunting will have been out as usual last week and the locals will have been feeling among the most penalised of all those denied that early summer feeling of normality. Now, as the days grotesquely start to grow shorter, and with Coronavirus deaths finally dropping below a thousand for the past week from a peak of 6,500 in mid-April, hopes of some degree of normality are rising.

For some stables the outward impression of the status quo remains. Royal Ascot success was largely the province of the big yards, but not exclusively so. Possibly the most remarkable were the achievements of Alan King, once almost exclusively regarded as a National Hunt specialist, but now a man for all seasons.

Royal Ascot encompassed 36 races over the five days. King had runners in five races. His Tritonic finished a half-length second to Highland Chief in the one-off Golden Gates Handicap which opened Thursday’s card and 40-1 shot Painless Potter was a creditable fifth in Saturday’s Coventry Stakes which will live long in the memory. Its victor, the Clive Cox-trained Nando Parrado, ridden by Adam Kirby for Mrs Marie McCartan, a 165,000 guineas buy as a foal, won at 150-1, the longest-priced Royal Ascot winner in its history. That exceeded two 100-1’s: Fox Chapel, who won the 1990 Britannia Stakes and Flashman’s Papers in the 2008 Windsor Castle.

Nando Parrado had run two weeks previously in one of the highly-competitive Newmarket races where trainers anxious to give preps to their nominated Royal Ascot hopefuls, took advantage of being guaranteed a run. Nando Parrado finished fifth behind Bright Devil whose trainer, Andrew Balding, opted for a step up in distance in Thursday’s Chesham Stakes. He finished fifth to the promising Coolmore colt, Battleground.

As well as Nando Parrado, three other subsequent winners started in that race. The fourth, Saint Lawrence, and sixth, Jimmy Sparks, both won races impressively last week, and London Palladium, last of 11 in that debut, was a 16-1 victor at Redcar yesterday.

Amazingly all three of King’s remaining runners won the final race of their respective days. Coeur De Lion made it third time lucky in Tuesday’s Ascot Stakes; Scarlet Dragon, at 33-1, gave Hollie Doyle a first Royal Ascot success in Friday’s Duke of Edinburgh Handicap and the final accolade of the week went to the redoubtable Who Dares Wins, just too tough for The Grand Visir, ridden by Hollie’s partner Tom Marquand in the Queen Alexandra Stakes for which he was the hot favourite.

Who Dares Wins, at eight, is the oldest of the King trio and has proved durable enough to run 44 times in his long career. The others are seven, Scarlet Dragon, with 45 runs on his card, and Coeur De Lion, 35.

Let’s deal with the other two first. Scarlet Dragon had 23 of his 45 runs for Eve Johnson Houghton before switching to King three seasons ago. He won five Flat races for Eve and, until Friday, his only wins for King had been in two hurdle races. He put that right here with a spectacular run from the back of the field, Hollie emulating Hayley Turner’s repeat win for Charlie Fellowes, this time aboard Onassis, in the Sandringham Handicap, Thursday’s finale.

Coeur De Lion has been with King from the start, the son of Pour Moi winning six races, two over hurdles, three on the Flat turf and one all-weather race. Who Dares Wins, with whom he has occasionally shared a horsebox to the races, had a remarkable time of it in 2019 and the first part of this year.

He was second in the Chester Cup on his third attempt. He was fourth in 2017, third the following year, and beaten only by Making Miracles last season. Between the two later Cup efforts he’d been off the track for almost a year before finishing a warming-up third under 9st 12lb behind Coeur Blimey and the inevitable Coeur De Lion in a long-distance Newbury Handicap.

Next came the Northumberland Plate, only a third all-weather run, but in the event a second triumph with a career-defining £92k winner’s prize. After that he was fourth to the smart Withhold in a valuable (but slowly-enough-run for him) two-mile handicap and then fourth in the Group 1 two-and-a-half-miler At the Arc meeting in Longchamp before finishing seventh to Stratum in the Cesarewitch.

So now Kingy would surely be giving him a break? Certainly not! Next came, of all things for a rising eight-year-old, four chases. Second places at Kempton, then (at 2-7) Plumpton before a Grade 2 win, showing all his stamina back at Kempton. His final run, in the Ultima Handicap at the Festival, probably owed more than a sideways look to the King stable sponsors, and his 13th of 23 was probably as well as could have been expected against “proper” chasers.

In the context of this weird season, a run on March 10th happily made him one of the less ring-rusty turning out for the Queen Alexandra, whose extended two miles, five furlongs could well have been written almost specifically with his requirements in mind. It needed many of those qualities to get him home ahead of The Grand Visir, who had been good enough to win last year’s Ascot Stakes under top weight. In truth, no other outcome seemed likely once the pair stripped off to do battle up the home straight.

Who Dares Wins fully lives up to his SAS-style motto. He could easily have been a Special Forces hero. In syndicate owner Henry Ponsonby’s eyes he surely is. It was such a pity that we couldn’t be there to celebrate, apart from everything else, the most heart-warming of his 11 victories and pay tribute also to Alan King, who has kept these three veterans of 124 races going to such wonderful effect.

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