After a titanic battle, the first two home in Ascot’s Listed Paradise Stakes are set to clash again in the Lockinge at Newbury.
The Ralph Beckett-trained New Mandate got the better of William Knight’s Sir Busker, with Frankie Dettori’s mount coming out on top by a neck in the one-mile event, a trial for the Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Meeting.
The 2020 Royal Lodge winner held sway on this occasion, despite having had only two runs since that Group Two success, most recently when well down the field in the Jersey Stakes last June.
Beckett said of the 6-1 winner: “I wasn’t sure what to expect. He was a very sick horse after the Jersey last year and spent two and a half months in a field. He wasn’t right at all.
“We never really got to the bottom of what was wrong, but Dr Green sorted him out and I hadn’t done a whole lot with him this spring. I hadn’t cranked him up. I just tried to get him right and in good shape and he was today.
“I have left him in the Lockinge and the Queen Anne and we will see how we go. With four runners, it was a mickey mouse race, but that was not his fault.
“He has got quite a lot of coat still to shift. We will stick to a mile. He has won on soft ground, he has won on fast ground.”
Third in the Queen Anne last year, Sir Busker will take the winner on again at Newbury.
Knight said: “He has an entry and it is annoying as I thought this was a winnable opportunity. It was a tactical race and Ralph’s horse has bounced back. We will happily take him on again.”
Andrew Balding is set to bring Bakeel back for the Royal meeting after the Sioux Nation colt powered to a debut success in the Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes.
The powerful bay looked to have plenty of scope, and improvement should be forthcoming after the 15-2 chance stayed on nicely in the five-furlong event to score by a length and a quarter under Jack Mitchell.
Balding said: “I’m delighted. We thought he might improve mentally a bit for the run, but he was pretty switched on and he hit the gates, so we are very happy.
“I think he is entitled to think of coming back here again in June for either the Norfolk or the Winsdor Castle – we will have a look at both. We will stay at five (furlongs) for the time being.
“He is a big, strong horse. He is only going to improve. It is the only Sioux Nation I have at home. He is just a bit thick at home. One day he will look really good and the next he will be over the place.”
Coral duly introduced Bakeel at 12-1 for the Norfolk Stakes.
John Gosden is much happier with his string now than he was a few weeks ago. After a slow start to the season, the master of Clarehaven is firing in plenty of winners.
Lope de Vega filly Grande Dame underlined the yard’s upturn in form with a sparkling debut in the one-mile Naas Racecourse Royal Ascot Trials Day British EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes.
In the hands of Ryan Moore, the 3-1 joint-favourite showed plenty of promise, despite looking a little green in downing Mukaddamah by a length and three-quarters, with stablemate Kings Joy a short head away in third.
“I have been a little bit behind,” said Gosden. “We stepped back a bit because it was warm, then it wasn’t.
“And also the Guineas is in April, which is earlier this year, because of Easter. But they are coming to hand now and I’m happy with where we are.”
Of Grande Dame, he added: “She was very narrow and light last year last year and she never really developed. We did a few half-speeds in the autumn and she has flourished this spring.
“She was down on the inside and looking at everything. She is probably a mile to a mile-and-a-quarter filly and I did put her in the Coronation Stakes yesterday, but she is probably better at a mile and a quarter.
“She is not always fizzy. It was just coming racing for the first time. It was just learning. She was just babyish.
“Kings Joy lost a front shoe. She was a little fresh and keen early and over-raced a little but ran a lovely race. Frankie felt the shoe coming off and being a bit keen cost her a length or so.”
Run in the name of the late, great Manny Mercer, who lost his life at the age of 30 when Priddy Fair threw him and fatally kicked him in the head before the start of the Red Deer Stakes at the same Berkshire track on September 26, 1959, the mile apprentice handicap went to the David Simcock-trained Repertoire, who took advantage of his revised mark to score on his seasonal debut.
Saffie Osborne gave the six-year-old a positive ride and he stayed on well to score comfortably by six lengths from Mostawaa.
His form had tailed off towards the back end last season, he bounced back in fine style to score at odds of 6-1.
Simcock said: “He lost his way last year and had a long time of it, coming from France and straight onto the all-weather. He had cried enough and had a long break. He has come back fresh and well and is obviously well treated. He is 11lb lower than when we were last year.
“We will likely turn him out again under a penalty.”