Tag Archive for: National Stakes

Enchanting performance sets Ffrench Davis filly up for Ascot

Enchanted Empress overcame a tardy start to land the Listed-class Orbital Veterinary Services National Stakes at Sandown.

Hawaiian was sent off favourite to further enhance the excellent record of Richard Hannon senior and junior in this contest and he set the pace after breaking swiftly.

However, the market leader failed to last home in testing conditions, with the Dominic Ffrench Davis-trained Enchanted Empress staying on strongly under David Egan to beat Rock Hunter by half a length.

The 4-1 winner had edged out the same runner-up by a neck at Ascot last time out to build on an opening Wolverhampton success, and in doing so continued the great early run of results for promising young sire Sergei Prokofiev.

Enchanting Empress (second left) on her way to victory
Enchanting Empress (second left) on her way to victory (John Walton/PA)

Brocklesby victor Zminiature was another doing all his best work at the finish to take an eyecatching third.

“She’s a tough filly, she just got herself out of trouble as she sat back in the stalls a little bit and missed the kick,” said Ffrench Davis.

“She had the class and speed to get herself out of trouble. We always thought she was an Albany filly, but I think we’re leaning now towards the Queen Mary because she’s got sharper with every run.

“It should be ideal, David was very much of the mind that five furlongs at Ascot was going to be fine.

“She’s got a fantastic attitude, she hadn’t done a lot between her last run and Ascot and here and she was actually a bit fresh today.

“She took a bit of waking up in her first run, but I think she knows what it’s all about now.”

Dominic Ffrench Davis can look forward to Royal Ascot
Dominic Ffrench Davis can look forward to Royal Ascot (John Walton/PA)

He added of the Amo Racing-owned winner: “Kia (Joorabchian) puts a great investment into the game and he deserves to have a few good ones. It’s great to be able to build up something good enough to go to Royal Ascot.

“She seems to cope with any ground, she won on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, she won goodish ground at Ascot and it didn’t bother her here today. A good horse will go on any ground.”

National Stakes set to be must-watch, with O’Brien colts poised for action

Aidan O’Brien holds an incredibly strong hand in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, with high-class colts City Of Troy and Henry Longfellow poised to take each on at the Curragh on Sunday.

The Ballydoyle handler’s youngsters arrive at the Kildare track with a course and distance victory and Group Two success to their name, but while one will further enhance their growing reputation by adding a first top-tier victory, the other will lose their unbeaten record.

The duo are both riding high at the top of the ante-post markets for next year’s Classics, and O’Brien, who is quickly bearing down on 4,000 winners, could get a big indication of who is Ballydoyle’s number one as he attempts to end a six-year drought in the Group One contest.

“At the moment it’s the plan (to run both). We’re happy with both at the moment,” he said on Saturday afternoon.

City Of Troy and Henry Longfellow will face the sternest examination of their career when they come up against Adrian Murray’s Bucanero Fuerte – who has already proven himself on the big stage.

Since finishing third to River Tiber in the Coventry Stakes, the son of Wootton Bassett has twice thrived over six furlongs at this track, following up a battling victory in the Railway Stakes with a dominant display in the Phoenix Stakes.

The latter of those two triumphs gave owners Amo Racing a first Group One and his handler is riding a crest of a wave with his stable star.

“It’s a dream to be involved with a horse like him and I never could have imagined it could have happened to me – it’s just what dreams are made of,” said Murray.

“He seems to be getting better and better. He won at the Curragh the first day and then went to Royal Ascot for us to finish third and that for us was as good as having a winner. He then came home and won the Railway and then won the Phoenix – it’s hard to believe.

“He looks like a horse that’s going to train on, he’s a big, long scopey horse and a beautiful mind. He’s thriving with racing and hopefully he keeps it going.”

Bucanero Fuerte has never raced beyond six furlongs, but the strength he has shown at the finish over that distance has connections excited to now tackle and extra furlong.

Murray, who also saddles the outsider Cuban Thunder, added: “He’s always struck me as a horse that needed a step up in trip and I can’t wait to see him running over seven furlongs and a mile. You’d be expect him to keep improving as we step him up.

“He worked very well at the Curragh last week and I could not be happier with him.”

Givemethebeatboys was a place behind Bucanero Fuerte in fourth at Royal Ascot but now has five and a half lengths to make up judged on Phoenix Stakes form, while Joseph O’Brien has won this race in two of the last three seasons and is this time represented by Futurity Stakes runner-up Islandsinthestream.

Ballydoyle big guns both possible for National duty

Aidan O’Brien has not ruled out the possibility of running both City Of Troy and Henry Longfellow in Sunday’s Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh.

Both colts are unbeaten and feature prominently in the betting for next year’s Classics.

O’Brien had suggested that Henry Longfellow would wait for the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket after he won the Futurity Stakes three weeks ago but his name was a surprise inclusion when declarations came through on Friday morning.

“It’s possible they could both run. Both are in good form,” said O’Brien.

“Obviously City Of Troy would prefer the ground to be quick whereas Henry Longfellow handles an ease but they are both in good form.

“Both of them have had two runs each. It’s a good while since City Of Troy ran but he’s been in good form at home so I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on.

“Obviously Henry Longfellow only ran a couple of weeks ago but he’s been well also.

“It has been a while since City Of Troy ran so he is ready for a comeback run if we’re going to run him again after this but he looked a bit unusual at Newmarket, didn’t he.”

Golden Arrow pointing towards Sandown before Royal Ascot

Golden Arrow, who created a highly favourable impression when scoring on debut at Hamilton on Sunday, will head to the Listed National Stakes at Sandown on Thursday week.

Alice Haynes is eyeing Royal Ascot following the Havana Grey juvenile’s three-quarter-length victory in the five-furlong Sky Bet Sunday Series EBF Maiden Stakes, and is keen to give the colt more experience beforehand.

Having made smooth headway against four rivals under Kieran O’Neill, Golden Arrow led a furlong out and kept on strongly at the first time of asking for owners Al Mohamediya Racing.

“It was a fantastic performance,” said Haynes. “He is all speed and will sharpen up a lot from that.

“The front two had the experience and I liked how he was behind the bridle the whole way and then came through at the end.

“Although he was a breeze-up horse, I quite like my two-year-olds to be behind the bridle, so they are not doing too much, and then to finish like that.”

The in-form Newmarket handler, who started training in 2021, is keen to head to the Royal meeting with the colt, who cost £200,000 at the breeze-ups.

“He will have an entry in the National Stakes before Royal Ascot, as I think it is important he goes and gets a bit more valid experience. He will probably be Norfolk Stakes-bound,” added Haynes.

“Thursday week will come around quickly and hopefully the ground will dry out a bit more. We might get some summer ground soon. We look forward to seeing ‘good’ in the ground.

“He is an exciting prospect and it is good for the owners, who are new with me.

“He was one of the more expensive ones, but Havana Greys are a real a pleasure to train.”

Tate eyeing Royal Ascot for juvenile pair

James Tate will run exciting colt Blue Storm in the National Stakes at Sandown on Thursday week as he winds up his team for Royal Ascot.

Blue Storm, a son of Darley’s first-season sire Blue Point, looked a smart prospect when beating six rivals on debut in a five-furlong novice at Newmarket last month.

Newmarket trainer Tate also unveiled another potentially decent sprinter in the shape of Natural Force, a son of Land Force, who won a similar event at Ascot under Neil Callan on Saturday.

Both colts look set for the Royal meeting next month.

Tate said: “We were absolutely delighted with Natural Force. Hopefully we will have a couple of nice two-year-olds to go to war with this year – him and Blue Storm.

“Blue Storm hasn’t run for a while. We have saved him for the National Stakes a week on Thursday and if we’re lucky enough for all to go well in that, we will be off to Ascot afterwards.

“Natural Force, when you obviously win first time at Ascot, your immediate thought would be Royal Ascot. He is all good and we will have a chat with owner Saeed Manana.

“The only question is really whether he wants to go straight there or whether he will wants to take on something in the middle. The timescale is getting a little bit tighter.”

Tate was pleased that Natural Force gained some course experience, which is likely to stand him in good stead should he return for the Royal meeting.

He added: “He took the whole prelims and things well, because obviously Royal Ascot is a very exciting place for a two-year-old and we’ve had more than one been over-faced by it in the past.

“Neil (Callan) said he was very professional and very easy, and won with a bit in hand, so let’s hope he is right.

“I would have thought he will stay at five (furlongs), with the Windsor Castle for him and the Norfolk for Blue Storm.”

Royal Aclaim worked well on Sunday ahead of a possible Haydock run
Royal Aclaim worked well on Sunday ahead of a possible Haydock run (Nigel French/PA)

Meanwhile, Royal Aclaim, who won the Listed City Walls Stakes at York before finishing sixth to Highfield Princess in the Group One Nunthorpe at the same venue last summer, could head make her return at Haydock in a fortnight’s time.

“She galloped on Sunday morning and all was good,” said Tate. “I would have thought she would end up at Haydock the weekend after next.

“There is a six-furlong fillies’ Listed race, the Cecil Frail, on the Friday and and a five-furlong Group Two on the Saturday, the Temple Stakes. All being well, we’d like to get her back in one of those two races.

“Obviously, that would fit nicely for Royal Ascot afterwards, if all went well. We would like to try her over six furlongs at some stage. Whether we do it before Ascot or after Ascot I don’t know.”