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Native Trail demolishes National Stakes field

Native Trail rocketed to 2000 Guineas favouritism as he maintained his unbeaten record with a brilliant victory in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, giving trainer Charlie Appleby a third win in the Curragh showpiece.

Previously successful in the Group One contest with Quorto (2019) and the brilliant Pinatubo (2020), the Moulton Paddocks handler – on the mark 24 hours earlier with Hurricane Lane in the St Leger at Doncaster – sent another high-class juvenile across the Irish Sea in search of top-level honours.

A son of Oasis Dream, the Superlative Stakes winner faced a far from straightforward task, with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Point Lonsdale the 8-13 favourite to make it five from five, and Hugo Palmer’s Ebro River bidding to follow up success in last month’s Phoenix Stakes.

William Buick had to nudge Native Trail (7-2) into contention with a couple of furlongs to run – but he really found top gear late on.

Point Lonsdale did his best to make a race of it, but Appleby’s ace was three and a half lengths clear of the odds-on shot at the line, with Ebro River close up in third.

Paddy Power make Native Trail their 5-1 favourite (from 10-1) for next year’s Guineas, with Coral and Ladbrokes both 4-1.

Appleby said: “This is a route we’ve taken with Pinatubo and Quorto before him – and it was always our plan immediately after the Superlative to come here with this horse.

“People ask ‘why don’t you look at the Champagne Stakes’ (at Doncaster), but I didn’t feel carrying a penalty there on softer conditions was potentially going to suit him.

“I think this is a great race and an indicator to the Dewhurst. It’s a Group One and a great weekend to be involved in.

“To have another winner of the National Stakes is very satisfying.”

Native Trail in full flight
Native Trail in full flight (Brian Lawless/PA)

He added: “He’s an interesting horse to be around. I took him to Newmarket a couple of weeks ago and if you’d asked me there if we’d have been winning a National Stakes, I might have been sat on the fence slightly.

“Full credit to the team at home. We definitely felt the horse had come forward for that gallop and we changed a bit of equipment on him today.

“William said he’s still so green and it felt like he was going down to the start on a maiden.

“He gave him a shove early doors to get up the revs, but I knew with two furlongs to go the one thing this horse was going to do was gallop out strong.

“I’d say we’ll go straight to the Dewhurst. I don’t know if he’s quite got the head for a Breeders’ Cup yet.”

Ebro River rockets into Royal Ascot reckoning

Hugo Palmer’s Ebro River entered the Royal Ascot equation with a striking victory in the Coral “Beaten By A Length” National Stakes at Sandown.

Out of Palmer’s 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold, he arrived having finished sixth to Forca Brasil on debut before running out a ready winner at Doncaster.

Sent off at 4-1, he blew the start and conceded plenty of ground – which over five furlongs usually means race over, but James Doyle soon had him back on an even keel.

The most impressive part of his performance came with a furlong to run when he hit the front and quickly shot clear.

He was so far in front that he was able to survive a marked drift to his left and still beat Little Earl by three and a quarter lengths.

Palmer said: “I was stuck on the motorway rather than on course, but managed to pull over and see the race. I’m obviously delighted.

“He’s looked very smart from the first day he came in. He’s obviously still a bit babyish and has a few crinkles to iron out – how we do that, I’m not sure.”

Betfair and Paddy Power introduced the winner into their Coventry Stakes betting at 14-1.

Considering options, Palmer said: “I’m not sure which race at Ascot yet, he wouldn’t be able to give away four lengths in the Norfolk like he did tonight.

“He’ll be fine on any ground and it isn’t a surprise he’s so precocious – Galileo Gold would have won at two in April if he had an owner, but I still had him.

“This horse will get a mile in time, but we’ll gradually step him up as the season progresses. He’s got some growing up to do.”

He added: “He got quite warm there and Ebro River might have been the only person who didn’t want to see at crowd at Sandown tonight!”

Doyle said: “He has plenty of talent. He is tricky, there is no getting away from that, but the guys have done a great job with him from day one and he has always shown us a lot of ability in his gallops. But he does have that trademark of running around a bit when he gets there.

“You would hope it is something he would grow out of with more experience. We just have to be mindful of it, I guess.

“I didn’t foresee them racing off the fence, so then I had no cover and it was a little bit messy, but he is super talented and has shown that on each occasion.

“As we know Ascot is quite wide open so you don’t want to be doing too much running around there. He doesn’t tend to jump that quick and I don’t think that will be a problem at Ascot.

“He is quick and travels very easily and almost over-races through the early part of the race. Obviously the Coventry is generally the race you want to win as it can make stallions. I think if we can get those creases ironed out in the early part of his race and get the timing a bit better, the six shouldn’t be a problem.”