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Great Max stakes Chesham claim with triumphant Newbury bow

Great Max appears to have earned himself a last-minute ticket to Royal Ascot after making a winning debut for Michael Bell in the Betfair Racing…Only Bettor Podcast Novice Stakes at Newbury.

A 260,000 guineas yearling purchase for owners Amo Racing Limited, the Wootton Bassett colt was a 4-1 shot for his racecourse introduction over six and a half furlongs in Berkshire.

Having been ridden prominently throughout, Jack Mitchell’s mount displayed a smart change of gear to get up and beat the wayward Harrow by three-quarters of a length – setting up an intended tilt at the Chesham Stakes on Saturday week.

Winning trainer Michael Bell said: “He’s been working well at home and we were hopeful that he could do something like that.

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“Provided he takes the race all right and eats up and trains well next week, he’ll run in the Chesham.

“There haven’t been many suitable maidens to run him in, but we’d had this plan in mind for a while.

“Phase one has gone according to plan, so if all goes well for the next week, we’ll head for Ascot.”

Sylvester Kirk admitted relief was his overriding emotion after Seattle Rock (5-2) made the most of having her sights lowered in division one of the Betfair British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.

The daughter of Fastnet Rock was placed in the Chesham at Ascot, the Sweet Solera at Newmarket and the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood as a juvenile last season.

Having also been set two demanding tests this spring – finishing down the field in the Nell Gwyn and the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket – Seattle Rock had far less on her plate at Newbury and duly opened her account with a two-length verdict under Ryan Moore.

“Relief is key,” said Kirk.

“You always worry when you’re taking a filly that’s been highly tried with decent form and a reasonable mark back into a maiden or a novice, so it’s nice the way she’s done it.

“It’s especially good that she’s done it over a mile because her form is obviously better over shorter.”

Seattle Rock stretches clear at Newbury
Seattle Rock stretches clear at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He added: “It will be interesting to see how the handicapper assesses the form. Ryan was reasonably complimentary about her, so we’ll sit down with Jeff (Smith, owner) and work out a plan from here on.

“She has nice black type already and it’s nice to get the maiden tag off her.”

Division two was a much closer run affair, with the William Haggas-trained Evident Beauty and Tom Marquand getting the better of fellow 5-2 joint-favourite Subtle Beauty by a neck.

Appleby eyeing American assignment for Newbury victor Creative Flair

Creative Flair is set to be prepared for a trans-Atlantic mission next month after adding her name to an illustrious roll of honour with victory in the Betfair British EBF Stakes at Newbury.

Subsequent Irish Oaks heroine Great Heavens (2012), dual Group One winner Speedy Boarding (2015) and top-class filly Sea Of Class (2018) are among the recent winners of a Listed contest better known as the Abingdon Stakes.

Creative Flair was the 13-8 favourite for this year’s renewal, having won at Ascot on her reappearance before filling the runner-up spot behind the Royal Ascot-bound Primo Bacio at York last month.

Sporting a hood for the first time, the daughter of Dubawi travelled strongly for much of the race on her first start over a mile and a quarter before knuckling down to see off chief market rival Lilac Road by half a length.

Appleby said: “I’m delighted. The step up in trip seems to have brought out some improvement – we were hopeful it would on her pedigree.

“I thought she saw it out well. Going forward we’re potentially looking at sending her further afield – we might look towards heading to America for the Belmont Oaks in July. That would be her next target.

“I think the right horses came to the fore today. Our filly and Lilac Road were the two that went in there as the highest-rated and they’ve both ran solid races.”

Tate contemplating future plans for Lockinge third Top Rank

James Tate is considering several options for Top Rank following his third place in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Having claimed a sixth win from his first eight career starts with a comeback victory in the Doncaster Mile in late March, the grey stepped up to Group One level for the first time in Saturday’s feature event.

While he was ultimately no match for the brilliant winner Palace Pier, or improving mare Lady Bowthorpe, Top Rank was comfortably best of the rest and Tate is looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season has in store.

He said: “He’s come out of the race in good order. It was his debut effort in a Group One and if you’d told me on the morning of the race that we’d finish third, I’d have been happy enough with that, but we prefer winning.

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“We knew Palace Pier would be hard to beat. You should never be afraid of one horse because anything can happen, but nothing did happen other than Palace Pier won easily!”

A potential rematch with Palace Pier in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot could be next on Top Rank’s agenda, although connections are not short of alternatives should they wish to head elsewhere.

“We have loads of options going forward at Group One, Group Two and Group Three level, but nothing before Royal Ascot,” Tate added.

“I think we’ll train him for the Queen Anne. We’ll see how he is, how the field is shaping up and what the ground is like and then decide whether to let him take his chance.

Top Rank's trainer James Tate
Top Rank’s trainer James Tate (Simon Cooper/PA)

“Later on there are races like the Summer Mile at Ascot and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville. I wouldn’t be afraid to drop him back to seven furlongs, which brings in the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh, the Hungerford at Newbury and the Park Stakes at Doncaster.

“There’s also the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown, so there’s plenty of suitable races for him and a few different factors will decide where he ends up.

“He’s a bit stronger and a bit more muscular and heavier than he used to be, so I don’t think he necessarily wants really soft ground – just good ground would be perfect for him.”

Royal Ascot run next for Lockinge second Lady Bowthorpe

An appearance at Royal Ascot is likely to be next on the agenda for Lady Bowthorpe following her excellent effort in defeat in Saturday’s Lockinge Stakes.

Having made a successful start to her campaign with a narrow defeat of subsequent winner Queen Power in Newmarket’s Dahlia Stakes, the Nathaniel mare stepped up to the highest level to take on the boys at Newbury.

While no match for the brilliant Palace Pier, Lady Bowthorpe pulled clear of the remainder in second, leaving trainer William Jarvis justifiably proud of his charge’s performance.

He said: “She was fine this morning. She was tired and knows she had a hard race yesterday, but she’s a pretty strong filly and I think she’ll be over it in 48 hours.

“We’re thrilled with her. To finish five and a half lengths clear of a pretty rock solid horse (Top Rank) was a very good performance.

“We’ll give her an easy-ish time, but she’s not a filly you can take it too easy with for too long as she bounces back pretty quick. Let’s hope that’s the case and we’ll look forward to her next run.”

The Newmarket handler confirmed a return to Group Two level for next month’s Duke of Cambridge Stakes is set to be next for Lady Bowthorpe, but he is hoping she can strike gold in Group One company before the season is out.

“The Duke of Cambridge seems the obvious race. The timing fits and it looks like the place to go,” Jarvis added.

“It is a Group Two of course, so we’ve got a 3lb penalty, but it could be a stepping-stone to races like the Falmouth or the Nassau Stakes. The programme slightly maps itself out for her.

“I’m dying to go 10 furlongs with her, for sure. There’s lots to look forward to – I’m very excited to have her.”

Palace Pier enters top bracket for Dettori

Frankie Dettori hailed Palace Pier as potentially the best miler he has ever ridden as John and Thady Gosden’s colt claimed a third Group One in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

That is some claim considering the greats Dettori has partnered in his illustrious career – which spans more than three decades and includes the likes of Dubai Millennium, Barathea, Markofdistinction and Ramonti.

However, Palace Pier took his career record to seven wins from eight starts when beating the admirable Lady Bowthorpe by a length and a half.

His sole defeat came on Champions Day last year when he lost a shoe on leaving the stalls and did not act on very soft ground.

The son of Kingman oozed class, making a mid-race move three furlongs out which meant he was probably in front sooner than ideal and led to him idling close home.

It was impressive from the 1-2 favourite, though, and perhaps the only surprise was that his Italian jockey was not quite his usual flamboyant self on returning to the paddock.

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“There was no flying dismount, because I did one at Chester on the same type of surface and fell over!” said Dettori.

Palace Pier leaves his rivals in his wake
Palace Pier leaves his rivals in his wake (John Walton/PA)

That was his only problem, however, and if it comes after the race there is certainly no room for complaining.

“I found a nice rhythm after the start, and he usually hits a flat spot between the three and the two, so I went to lay up – but he just went ‘whoosh’ and took off,” added Dettori.

“I hit the front over two out, so he was a long time in front. He won like a really good horse.”

Gosden senior seems keen on a step up to a mile and a quarter later in the season, with the Juddmonte International at York in the frame – but his jockey comes from a school of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’.

“I don’t think we need to step up in trip at the moment – he likes a straight mile, and his next target could be the Queen Anne,” added Dettori.

When asked to compare Palace Pier to some of the other great milers, he said: “He’s very good, he’s only run eight times.

“He doesn’t show a lot in the morning, but he’s a wonderful athlete with a good temperament – he’s got everything you want. He can only get better, so I’m very excited about the summer and the end of the season with him.

“He’s a serious horse. When I rode him the other morning he flew – he usually doesn’t do that. I said to John we are blessed to have horses like him in the yard, because it keeps the smile on everyone’s face.

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the Lockinge on Palace Pier
Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the Lockinge on Palace Pier (John Walton/PA)

“He just loves his racing and he’s one of the best milers I’ve ever ridden. I’m delighted this is only the beginning of the season.

“He could be the best I’ve ever ridden, but he’ll have to go and win a string of Group Ones first to be the best – at the moment everything is in the right place. I’ve ridden a few, mind – Barathea, Dubai Millennium and Mark Of Esteem to name a few.”

Dettori, who has already won the 1000 Guineas on Mother Earth and the Chester Cup on Falcon Eight in recent weeks, and shows no signs of slowing up at the age of 50, added: “It’s not been a bad start to the season, has it?”

Palace Pier pounces for brilliant Lockinge victory

Palace Pier showed a brilliant turn of foot to power to glory in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

One of last year’s pre-eminent milers, the John and Thady Gosden-trained colt returned to action in style last month at Sandown, tuning up perfectly for his latest Group One assignment.

Settled towards the rear of the pack as Lord Campari took them along, jockey Frankie Dettori was assessing dangers approaching two furlongs out – and, satisfied the time was right, he let the 1-2 favourite go about his business.

The response was electric – but runner-up Lady Bowthorpe ran the race of her life to make sure it was not just a procession.

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In the end a comfortable length and a half was the winning margin, with Top Rank also emerging with plenty of credit in third, another five and a half lengths back.

John Gosden said: “He’s a lovely horse, he relaxed well in the race – he got a little bit squeezed leaving the gate, Frankie said he got back further than he wanted.

“He came through very nicely, he said he had it won two out – he had to go. He got a little bit lonely looking around in front ,and I thought the filly ran a great race to be second. I’m thrilled for them.

“I think he would (get a mile and a quarter), he relaxes so well – you can put him where you want in a race, so to that extent we could do (step up), but it’s pretty obvious at this stage to go to the Queen Anne (at Royal Ascot) and think about it after that, whether we want to change trip.

“I could see that (Juddmonte International) as a very possible target for him – as you know Royal Ascot to the Eclipse is very tight, about 16 days, so that’s quite tough if they’ve had a hard race at Ascot to come back in 16 days.

“I think the Juddmonte would be a strong possibility, but there is a little race in France called the Prix Jacques le Marois at the same time, although getting to France is quite difficult now.

“He’s a son of Kingman. Kingman is a horse I could have brought back and run in the July Cup over six furlongs, he was that fast – whereas this horse has got from the dam’s side the ability to stay.”

As for the gallant runner-up, William Jarvis is also planning to go to the Royal meeting, for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, before heading for the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July fixture.

Jarvis said: “I hate finishing second, but I didn’t expect to win necessarily today – it was only if Palace Pier didn’t turn up, and I think he did run his race. I think we made him battle, and we are five lengths clear of the third.

“I think it was a pretty good performance. I’m delighted with her.”

Al Aasy in cruise control – now Coronation Cup beckons

Al Aasy oozed class and is now a short price for the Coronation Cup following what amounted to a victory stroll in the Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.

Sent off the 10-11 favourite for the Group Three following a similarly impressive display in the John Porter earlier in the year, the four-year-old faced stiffer opposition this time.

Last year’s Dante winner Thunderous and 2019 St Leger winner Logician were among the opposition – but Jim Crowley did not move in the saddle as the William Haggas-trained colt breezed to a four-length success.

Thunderous chased him home, but the winning distance could easily have been doubled.

“He won very well. He settled well and won very well and I can’t really say more than that, as he looks like that at home – he’s a talented horse,” said Haggas, who has never hidden his admiration for his charge.

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“He’s done well this year and we’ll find out in the Coronation Cup – as that is where he is going next – how good he is.

“They never get quick ground at Epsom and we’ve got one in the Derby (Mohaafeth) that needs it quick and it is bound to rain for him – if it does that will suit Al Aasy.

“He didn’t surprise me. We were really gutted with him in the Gordon Stakes last year, but that race was a mess and the ground was very quick.

“He’s talented and is in everything we could possibly put him in. We’ll put him in the Arc, but there’s a long way to go before then.

“I’d fancy coming back to 10 (furlongs) with him, but I’m not sure. He’s pretty good at a mile and a half and there are some pretty nice races at that trip, starting with Epsom and then Ascot in the summer (King George).

“If he’s going to run in the Arc he’ll need a break at some stage. I wasn’t going to run him today, I was going to go straight to Epsom, but he needed a race as he was too well.

“He’s got a long way to go, he’s won two Group Threes, but he’s a good horse.

“He’s a very enthusiastic horse, but the good thing is in both races this year he’s dropped the bridle. Jim is getting his confidence in him now which we’ve always had, but he – quite rightly – had lost a bit after Goodwood.”

Crowley was equally as impressed and said: “He’s a monster of a horse, I just had a double handful throughout.

“He’s a bit of a handful and I think that is why William wanted to give him another race, but he gave me a great ride – he sort of dragged me to the front.

“You don’t get many horses give you that sort of feel. He appreciated the cut in the ground, but hopefully he hasn’t stopped improving.

“We’ll see where we go from Epsom.”

Paddy Power initially cut Al Aasy into 2-1 (from 9-2) for the Coronation Cup, but were forced to go shorter still at 7-4.

Creative Force continues on upward curve at Newbury

Creative Force looks a sprinter on the up after blitzing his rivals in the BetVictor Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

Charlie Appleby’s three-year-old, who is gelded so will be unable to run in the Commonwealth Cup, came from last to first under James Doyle to beat Spycatcher by a comfortable three lengths.

Sent off a 9-4 chance, he has now won four of his five races, with his sole defeat in the Coventry Stakes last year.

“He’s a progressive little horse,” said Appleby from Newmarket.

“The way he’s hitting the line over six the option could be there to step up to seven furlongs and he could be a Jersey horse, but I haven’t had chance to speak to James yet.

“Unfortunately he doesn’t qualify for the Commonwealth, but the Jersey could be a possibility. If not we’ll step him up to Group company over six. He settles, so he gives himself a chance.

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“He’s a fun little horse to have around at the moment. Who knows, if he hadn’t been gelded he might not be doing what he’s doing now. He’s there to be a racehorse and that’s what he’s doing now.

“When these sprinters get on a roll you don’t know when they’ll plateau out. Thankfully he’s on an upward curve.”

Few in the weighing room are riding better than former champion Ryan Moore this season – and he again showed how difficult he is to beat in a finish when Dukebox (8-1) prevailed in a photo to the BetVictor Conditions Stakes.

Richard Hannon used the same race as a stepping stone to Royal Ascot in 2016 for Mehmas, who went on to be second on the Coventry before winning the July Stakes and the Richmond at Goodwood.

Dukebox had won on debut at Kempton, but the market favoured stablemate Al Shibli, who went off the 7-4 favourite.

Oisin Murphy appeared to have done everything right on Dairerin, who hit the front deep inside the final furlong, but Moore would not be denied and got the verdict by a nose.

“This lad is out of Broadway Duchess who we also trained, I own a quarter along with Christopher Powell who unfortunately lost his wife (Jenny) six months ago and this is when you find out horses give you something money can’t buy,” said Hannon.

“He’ll go to the Coventry and I’ve put him in the Railway Stakes as well. He won today like he won his first race, he never looked like he’d win either.

“They went pretty quick, Ryan said it felt like the Abbaye. It’s always the sign of a good horse when they only just do enough.

“The other horse is nice and when he gets some fast ground he’ll win.”

Bay Bridge pulled nicely clear under Ryan Moore
Bay Bridge pulled nicely clear under Ryan Moore (John Walton/PA)

The BetVictor London Gold Cup Handicap is usually one of the hottest handicaps of the season, with the winner known to go on to Group-race glory.

While this year’s renewal looked to lack the strength in depth of previous runnings, the winner looks well up to scratch.

Well-backed, Sir Michael Stoute’s Bay Bridge went off the 11-4 favourite and Moore always looked to have matters under control, coming four lengths clear.

The Haras de Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes saw one or two lofty reputations dented – but at the same an equally promising winner, as Eshaada (18-1) stayed unbeaten for Roger Varian in the hands of Jim Crowley.

Her trainer will look towards the Ribblesdale Stakes at the Royal fixture next.

Logician and Al Aasy lock horns in Al Rayyan

A Classic winner for whom the sky was thought to be the limit and a horse expected to go to the top himself are set to clash in a fascinating Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.

When Logician powered down the Doncaster straight to lift the St Leger under Frankie Dettori in 2019 he was seen as a real player for all the big middle-distance races to come the following year – a threat even to mighty stablemate Enable.

But he was struck by serious illness, one that put his life in danger, and just getting him back to the track has been an achievement.

That came in September last year back at Doncaster – a year on from his Leger demolition – and he looked to have retained his ability in winning a match race as he liked, beating the 107-rated Mythical Magic by seven lengths.

Frankie Dettori celebrates Leger glory with Logician
Frankie Dettori celebrates Leger glory with Logician (Clint Hughes/PA)

Rather than fly too high, John Gosden opted for a Group Three assignment at York next, the relocated Cumberland Lodge Stakes – but the son of Frankel ran way below par and was a well-beaten last of four to Euchen Glen, at odds of 1-3.

No explanation has come to light, so connections will know much more about his future after Saturday’s Group Three test, where the William Haggas-trained Al Aasy is expected to be a serious stumbling block, as he limbers up for the Coronation Cup.

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Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for the late Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation, feels Logician still has a big future ahead.

He said: “We’re still a bit mystified why he ran so poorly at York on his last start in the Cumberland Lodge. He checked out fine and has had a straightforward winter.

“I think older horses always tend to take a little bit longer to come to hand, especially a horse who has had time off.

“With each of his works, he’s improved. He obviously had that severe peritonitis over the winter of 2019-20, and that is serious.

“He came back, albeit in a two-horse race at Doncaster, and looked to be back on track. Then nothing went to plan at York.

“We’ve always had faith in him, and Prince Khalid and the family were excited about him and wanted to give him every chance.

“He went nicely under Frankie (Dettori, last weekend), so hopefully this will prove a step forward.

“We know he’s got that talent, and he’s in the right hands.”

Al Aasy was an easy winner on his comeback at Newbury
Al Aasy was an easy winner on his comeback at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Al Aasy, meanwhile, has long been the apple of his trainer’s eye, and it was easy to see why in his striking victory in the John Porter over this course and distance last month.

Angus Gold, racing manager to the Shadwell Estate Company, said: “Al Aasy ran very well at Newbury first time out, and William has been happy with him since.

“We will see how he gets on this weekend at Newbury and take it from there, but William had planned to go to the Coronation Cup.

“At Goodwood last year, when he was last in the Gordon Stakes, nothing appeared to come to light – but he was a very immature horse physically, and maybe it all came quick enough.

“William did the sensible thing and gave him plenty of time off, and hopefully it will pay off this year – which it looks like it is.”

The big two are part of a field of six, which includes last year’s Dante winner Thunderous (Mark Johnston).

Also featuring are Asiaaf (David Simcock), Rainbow Dreamer (Alan King) and Ranch Hand (Andrew Balding).

Palace Pier primed for Lockinge duty

After a sparkling return to action, all eyes will be on Palace Pier as he bids to claim further big-race honours in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The Kingman colt was brilliant in beating Pinatubo and Wichita in a pulsating climax to the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot – and handled more testing conditions to double his Group One tally in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

He was beaten for the first time when third on his final start of 2020 in the QEII at Ascot in October, but a lost shoe in bottomless ground emerged as a viable excuse and he looked back to his brilliant best when making a successful reappearance in last month’s bet365 Mile at Sandown.

Palace Pier is odds-on to claim a seventh win from eight career starts in this weekend’s feature event, but John Gosden is taking nothing for granted.

“The race (at Sandown) has brought him on and we’re pleased with him going in at this stage,” said the Clarehaven handler.

“It looks a good edition of the race and we wouldn’t want to see a lot more rain. He lost a shoe and had a slight injury in the QEII when the ground got very soft, so hopefully it’s not that – it can happen at Newbury.

“We’re pleased with him, but I have plenty of respect for the opposition. Lope Y Fernandez comes over and he ran exceptionally well at Leopardstown. Sometimes the Lockinge can come up a little bit weak, but not this year.”

The horse rated the biggest threat to Palace Pier by bookmakers is Lope Y Fernandez, who bids to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a third Lockinge success following the previous triumphs of the brilliant Hawk Wing (2003) and Rhododendron (2018).

The four-year-old ran in Group One company over a variety of different distances last season, but sticks to a mile after making an impressive return over that trip in a Listed event at Leopardstown last month.

Lope Y Fernandez (left) was third in the Irish Guineas to Siskin
Lope Y Fernandez (left) was third in the Irish Guineas to Siskin (PA)
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O’Brien said: “We were delighted with him last year. The Irish Guineas was a messy race and it didn’t really tell us if he was a sprinter or a miler.

“After that we messed around with him a bit, but in all fairness he took it well to say it wasn’t far from ideal.

“At the end of it all we decided this horse was a miler. His last run at the Breeders’ Cup was good and we decided we’d get him ready for this race.

“He’s done very well physically and mentally and has settled down. We were delighted with his run at Leopardstown. We’re looking forward to it.

“We’re delighted Palace Pier is running, everyone wants to see the big horses in these races.”

Top Rank is stepped up in class by James Tate after landing a sixth win from eight outings in the Doncaster Mile in late March.

“Palace Pier has won on soft before, so I’m not sure if that was why he was beaten at Ascot, but in any case you’ve just got to concentrate on your own horse. The ground looks like it will suit our horse anyway,” said Tate.

“Trip-wise with him we’ve looked at both alternatives – dropping back to seven furlongs and going up to 10. He doesn’t pull, so I wouldn’t rule out a mile and a quarter one day.

“He may be five but has not been over-raced. I’m very hopeful this season will be his peak season, so it seems like the right one to be having a go at the Lockinge.

“He’s in good form, so we’ll have a go.”

My Oberon (left) was impressive on his return in the Earl of Sefton
My Oberon (left) was impressive on his return in the Earl of Sefton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The William Haggas-trained My Oberon filled the runner-up spot behind Top Rank in the Superior Mile at Haydock last September and renews rivalry off the back of winning Newmarket’s Earl of Sefton Stakes.

Haggas said: “He seems fine. I was going to run him in the Prix d’Ispahan, but it’s complicated (travelling to France) so we’re going for the Lockinge.

“I’m not sure he’ll enjoy the ground much but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

“He’s definitely improved. It was a good run first time out – he beat a couple of solid yardsticks.

“Hopefully he’ll show a bit more improvement.”

David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters and John Quinn’s Safe Voyage both make the journey from Yorkshire.

The globetrotting Lord Glitters returns to home soil following a successful stint in Dubai, where he won twice, while Safe Voyage has been off the track since finishing last in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November.

O’Meara said of Lord Glitters: “He’s had a very good winter. He came back and freshened up nicely.

“He won’t mind the soft ground. Although he’s won on fast ground abroad, he handles slow conditions absolutely fine as well.

“He was let down a bit, but he got turned out every day. He’s now ready to go again.”

Quinn said of Safe Voyage: “We went to Keeneland, but it just went against us. He’s had a nice break, we’re happy with him and he’s training well.

“It’s a good race, but we’re hoping for a good run.

“He’s a very good horse, we’re pleased with him. He’s moving well and it’s fingers crossed. We’re looking forward to it.”

Lady Bowthorpe ready to prove a class act for Banks and Jarvis

Lady Bowthorpe is primed to produce her new personal best in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes for trainer William Jarvis and owner Emma Banks.

The mare was last seen winning Newmarket’s Group Two Dahlia Stakes by a head, from subsequent Middleton Stakes heroine Queen Power, and in doing so provided Jarvis with his biggest success in more than 25 years.

A step up in class therefore beckons in Saturday’s Group One over a mile at Newbury – in which John and Thady Gosden’s Palace Pier dominates the market as odds-on favourite.

Lady Bowthorpe is a 33-1 chance in a field of 12, but the team behind her is not unsettled by her outsider status.

“I’ve been thrilled with her,” said Jarvis.

Lady Bowthorpe (left) on her way to victory in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket
Lady Bowthorpe (left) on her way to victory in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket (David Davies/PA)

“She’s come out of the Dahlia Stakes really well – and she did a nice, good swinging canter this morning.”

“James, who rides her, expressed huge satisfaction and pleasure and said she felt every bit as good as she did going into the Dahlia Stakes.

“We haven’t galloped her as such, but you’d like to think there was a bit of improvement in her.”

Jarvis knows that improvement will be necessary if Lady Bowthorpe is to hold her own against the likes of Palace Pier and Aidan O’Brien’s Lope Y Fernandez.

“I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Palace Pier,” he said.

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“He looks the standout horse, and Aidan (O’Brien) doesn’t bring a horse over from Ballydoyle unless he thinks they’re a live Group One contender.

“It looks a pretty strong field – she’ll have to run a personal best to get involved, but I see no reason why she can’t.

“She comes from off the pace, so hopefully there’ll be enough pace on our side – that’s crucial.

“She handled the ground at Newmarket beautifully, and I think good to soft will be perfect for her.

“She’s got to up her her game, she’s got to improve. But she’s as good as I can get her, she’s in rude health – and we’ll find out on Saturday whether she’s up to it.”

Banks will also be in attendance for the race, part of the mile category in this year’s Qipco British Champions Series.

A music agent for industry leaders Creative Arts Agency, Lady Bowthorpe’s enthusiastic owner represents some of the world’s most best-known acts – with Katy Perry, Arcade Fire, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kylie Minogue and Green Day all clients.

She is used to dealing with talented and often mercurial characters, and can identify similarities between the human and equine stars in her life.

“If you’re hugely talented, often you’re not the easiest person to deal with – be it equine or human,” said Banks.

“All of my best horses have been the ones that probably need a bit more psychology attached to them, and that’s possibly true with some of my clients as well.”

The owner also pointed out parallels between her own line of work and that of Jarvis.

“There are some similarities – what I do for a job is plot and plan a music artist’s career,” she said.

“What William does, and I then butt in occasionally, is plot and plan a horse’s career.

“Some are at the top level and some are working every couple of weeks, but it’s still about planning and organising. It’s not where you are today – it’s about where it leads you tomorrow that I think is really important.”

Underpinning Banks’ passion for racing is her love of horses, and that appreciation for the racehorse allows her to apply the same measures of success to her equines as she does to her clients.

Lady Bowthorpe winning the Betfred Valiant Fillies’ Stakes at Ascot Racecourse
Lady Bowthorpe won the Betfred Valiant Fillies’ Stakes at Ascot (Bill Selwyn/PA)

“I love the horses, that’s where it starts for me,” she said.

“If I go to the yard, and William goes in for a cup of tea, I can go through three packets of polos and stroke them – I go a bit Pony Club, and I’m fine with that!

“I really love the horses. When they’re talented and can win a race, or even when they put a good run in and have a personal best, that to me is a huge win.

“A huge win for me in my job is not necessarily if you headline Glastonbury or play Wembley Stadium, it’s doing the best you can at the stage you’re at in your career. Sometimes selling that 200 capacity venue is as big a deal as selling out Wembley arena, it’s all relative.”

Success this weekend would be a huge achievement by anyone’s standards, especially for a smaller team taking on the major racing operations like Ballydoyle and the Gosdens.

“It’s exciting, it’s really exciting,” added Banks.

“Whatever happens, I know she’ll do her best. William’s done a great job, and everyone on the yard.

“It’s a long season, but this fitted in really well – and if you don’t try, you’re never going to know.

“There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be than at Newbury on Saturday.”

Palace Pier faces 11 in Lockinge

Palace Pier is set to face 11 rivals as the brilliant miler bids to justify short odds in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained four-year-old is already odds on at around 4-7 for Saturday’s Group One on the strength of his top-class form.

The Kingman colt has won six of his seven starts, including twice at the top level – and he made a winning reappearance in the bet365 Mile at Sandown last month.

Palace Pier’s only defeat so far came when he was third to The Revenant in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on unsuitably soft ground in October.

Despite his outstanding credentials, Palace Pier has not scared off the opposition.

Among the declarations is fellow Group One scorer, David O’Meara’s hardy veteran Lord Glitters – while other Group-race winners include the John Quinn-trained Safe Voyage, James Tate’s progressive Top Rank, My Oberon, from William Haggas’s stable, and William Jarvis’ Lady Bowthorpe.

Aidan O’Brien’s Lope Y Fernandez is the sole Irish challenger – with the dozen runners completed by Bless Him, Century Dream, Happy Power, Lord Campari and Pogo.

Palace Pier tops Lockinge contenders

Palace Pier is on course to try to extend his Group One-winning CV as one of 16 contenders left in Newbury’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, Palace Pier’s only career defeat to date came when third in last October’s QEII Stakes on Champions Day on unsuitably soft ground.

Palace Pier has since looked very classy when winning the bet365 Mile at Sandown by eight lengths on his reappearance this season.

Aidan O’Brien has left in just one possible on Saturday in Lope Y Fernandez, having taken out the likes of Order of Australia and Mogul.

James Tate is running his stable star Top Rank following a very impressive return to action at Doncaster, and the lightly-raced five-year-old looks to still have more to offer.

“It’s easy to say ‘never be afraid of one horse’ but the point is as a Listed winner and Group Three winner, if you said we could definitely be second on Saturday, I’d be satisfied,” said Tate.

“It’s a Group One, worth lot of money, and we’ll be doing our best to win. He’s in good form – and I think a straight, flat mile at Newbury will suit, and probably the forecast ground (good to soft) too.

“He did look very impressive at Doncaster, and if you took Palace Pier out or you were in a Group Two you’d be very optimistic. But you can’t do that – we’re in a Group One, and arguably Europe’s best miler is in there.

“But you can’t be afraid of one horse – the favourite does not win most of the time, so hopefully he’ll go there and do us proud.”

William Haggas’ My Oberon is another who looks capable of mixing it at a higher level, having won the Earl Of Sefton Stakes on his return to action.

David O’Meara’s grand servant Lord Glitters, the Charlie Hills-trained duo of Pogo and Tilsit and John Quinn’s Safe Voyage are among others left in.

William Jarvis’ Lady Bowthorpe is the only mare in contention.

Top Rank sights locked in on Lockinge glory

Top Rank is set to take on hot favourite Palace Pier in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes next month.

Newmarket trainer James Tate confirmed his impressive Doncaster winner will be his first runner in the Newbury Group One on May 15, as the prospective field was reduced to 23 at the latest forfeit stage.

Top Rank will be stepping up to the top level for the first time too, having begun his five-year-old campaign with a return to winning form in the Listed Doncaster Mile last month.

The grey defied a Group Three winner’s penalty on Town Moor, and Tate said: “We plan to go to the Lockinge.

“Obviously it’s a big step up in class. He’s a Listed winner and a Group Three winner, so the obvious step would be Group Two – but with the lack of a suitable opportunity, we are going to have a go at Newbury.

“We did have a feeling that he might be bigger and better this year, so we were very pleased he could win at Doncaster giving 5lb to the rest of the field.

“He’ll have to leave that form behind again if he is to win the Lockinge – but we think the flat course at Newbury will suit him and, if it turned up something easier than good to firm, we would be hopeful of a good show.”

John Gosden’s Palace Pier sets a lofty standard, as a dual Group One winner last year and having recorded an eight-length success on his recent return in the bet365 Mile at Sandown.

Aidan O’Brien is also strongly represented too with a team which includes Order Of Australia and Lope Y Fernandez, first and third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and, intriguingly, top-class middle-distance performer Mogul.

Tate added: “I did watch Palace Pier on Friday, and he looked very good.

“That didn’t bother me too much. If you’d told me now that we were going to be second to Palace Pier, I’d take that.

“I’m a big believer in not fearing one horse. If I can get a career best out of my horse I will be happy.

“We have had a few Group One runners, and the closest we’ve been was a neck second in the French Guineas, but I’ve never had a runner in the Lockinge.”

Mehmento in line for French Guineas bid after fine Greenham effort

A tilt at Classic glory in the French 2000 Guineas could be next on the agenda for Mehmento following his narrow defeat in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Sunday.

The Hambleton Racing-owned colt faced a big step up in class for the Group Three contest, having registered two wide-margin wins on the all-weather at Southwell since the turn of the year.

However, the Archie Watson-trained son of Mehmas proved he is a horse of considerable potential with an excellent effort in defeat – looking the likely winner after kicking clear under Hollie Doyle before being run down late by Richard Hannon’s hot favourite Chindit.

Cosmo Charlton, Hambleton Racing’s head racing manager, said: “The owners are absolutely flying and they were certainly flying at the furlong pole, that’s for sure!

“He broke really well and travelled great and when Hollie asked him to pick up, he put a couple of lengths between himself and the Coventry winner (Nando Parrado) in a couple of strides, which is the sign of a good horse.

“We thought we might have won it a furlong out, but we got picked up by a possible Guineas winner.

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“Hollie couldn’t have been happier with our horse. She said he’s got a willing attitude and puts his head down – he’s the perfect horse to own and train in terms of attitude.

“He was unraced a handful of weeks ago, so he’s open to further improvement.”

While Chindit is bound for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday week, Mehmento is more likely to contest the French equivalent the following weekend.

“We’ve done some work on his stride pattern and that is suggesting he wants seven furlongs to a mile, so that’s where we’re looking at the moment, rather than coming back in trip,” Charlton added.

“Looking ahead, Archie is thinking of the French 2000 Guineas. He just thinks it’s a little bit of a sharper test than Newmarket and the ground might also be more suitable.

“He handled that watered ground very well, but he obviously handles the surface at Southwell well, so it if it was on the soft side of good in France it could suit him even better.

“You never say never as far as Newmarket is concerned, but I think we’re very much looking forward to the French Guineas as the nature of the race might be a bit better for him.”

Outbox is another high-class performer for Hambleton Racing
Outbox is another high-class performer for Hambleton Racing (Mike Egerton/PA)

Mehmento was one of two Hambleton-owned horses to run well at Newbury, with his stablemate Outbox finishing third behind the impressive Al Aasy in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes, better known as the John Porter.

Charlton said: “We were getting the vibes that the winner was a Group One horse, so we have no problems getting beaten by him.

“Hollie was really happy with our horse and he’s cemented himself as a proper Listed/Group Three performer.

“He’s going to go for a Listed race at Ascot in a few weeks’ time and we’ll see where we go from there, but I think he’s a horse you could travel abroad with for opportunities as well.”

Trainer Archie Watson
Trainer Archie Watson (Simon Cooper/PA)

Charlton was keen to credit Watson for purchasing both horses for relatively modest sums, adding: “Outbox cost £16,000 and Mehmento was £14,000.

“Outbox is worth a lot more than that now and Mehmento is probably worth a small fortune, I’d have thought. Happy days.

“It was great to have two Group-race runners running so well.”