Reach For The Moon ready to test potential against Lusail

Reach For The Moon bids to confirm his top-level potential with victory in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

Runner-up on his racecourse debut at Yarmouth in the spring, the Sea The Stars colt came close to providing the Queen with a Royal Ascot winner in June when pushing star Irish juvenile Point Lonsdale close in the Chesham Stakes.

John and Thady Gosden’s youngster has since impressed in winning a novice event at Newbury and the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown – and jockey Frankie Dettori is excited to see the colt test his powers at Group Two level on Saturday.

“In the last two races he hardly saw a horse, so this is the first big test,” said the Italian.

“We’re building him up, he’s getting more experience and he’s done nothing wrong so far.

“This horse is a work in progress at the moment. We’re keeping him busy. We feel the more experience he gets, the better he gets.

“Saturday will be another key point. I’ve got plenty of confidence in him. He’s exciting, and Her Majesty is our biggest asset in racing.”

The Queen looks on at Reach For The Moon after his run at Royal Ascot
The Queen looks on at Reach For The Moon after his run at Royal Ascot (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Reach For The Moon is already prominent in ante-post lists for next year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby, but Dettori is not looking that far ahead at this stage.

He added: “Everybody is thinking about next year – I’m thinking one race at a time. Let’s get Saturday out of the way, and then progress.

“All the boxes are ticked, and everything is going in the right direction.

“After the Solario, myself and John felt the experience of racing is doing him good – and that is why we are getting him out.

“To have a colt of this calibre for the Queen is exciting. She saw the horse at Ascot. She comes to the yard a couple of times a year, and we are so lucky to have the Queen support the sport.”

Thady Gosden is similarly keen to get this weekend’s assignment out of the way before considering a potential Classic campaign in 2022.

He said: “He’s progressed nicely. He ran a good race at Ascot, he progressed in a novice and he won well at Sandown in the Solario.

“He goes to Doncaster in good form. It’s a very competitive race – there’s Lusail in there, who has plenty of speed and won the Gimcrack.

“It’s a long way away from the Derby at the moment – but he’s heading in the right direction, so hopefully he progresses.”

The biggest threat to Reach For The Moon appears to be the Richard Hannon-trained Lusail, who has already enjoyed two big-race victories this summer – Newmarket’s July Stakes and the Gimcrack at York.

“It looks a very good race and it always is,” said Hannon.

“Because it’s towards the end of the year it’s the clash of giants. I’m very happy with my horse. He’s won a Gimcrack, won a July Stakes – you don’t do that unless you’re a very good horse.

“It would obviously be easier without a penalty, but he carried a penalty in the Gimcrack and dealt with that no problem. He’s a big, strong horse and he will carry a big weight.

“He’s not just a two-year-old. I’ve always known he’d get seven furlongs, and maybe further. He’s a Guineas horse for next year, and you might even see some improvement at seven.

“Reach For The Moon looked a very good horse when he won the Solario. Our horse has done it twice at Group Two level now. He probably is the one to beat, but it’s a good race and very competitive.”

Bayside Boy remains an exciting prospect
Bayside Boy remains an exciting prospect (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy looked a high-class juvenile when making a winning start to his career at Newbury, since when he has been narrowly beaten by Masekela in the Listed Denford Stakes at the Berkshire circuit.

Varian said: “It’s a strong race, but we’re keen to give it a go.

“He’s in good order and should run very well.

“I think there’s more improvement to come from him.”

The field is completed by Michael O’Callaghan’s Irish raider Twilight Jet.

Reach For The Moon on course for Champagne Stakes

Reach For The Moon headlines 11 contenders for the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

Owned by the Queen and trained by John and Thady Gosden, Reach For The Moon narrowly failed to give Her Majesty a Royal Ascot victory when beaten just half a length by Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes.

The Sea The Stars colt went on to land a Newbury maiden before registering a deeply impressive success in the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown last time out.

He faces another stiff test in Saturday’s Group Two heat, though, with the Richard Hannon-trained Lusail seeking a hat-trick at this level after lifting the July Stakes at Newmarket and then adding to his tally in the Gimcrack at York last month.

Dubawi Legend disappointed slightly on the Knavesmire when only third in the Acomb at the Ebor meeting, but he could be given another shot at Group race glory by Hugo Palmer in this seven-furlong contest.

Connections have Friday’s Cazoo Flying Scotsman Stakes as a potential alternative, however.

Palmer said: “I left him in the Champagne, and he’s in the Flying Scotsman as well, so we’ll just have to see.

“He appreciates fast ground and he’s a course-and-distance winner.

“The Champagne is a firm option, and so is the Listed race on the Friday.”

Native Trail is a leading contender for the Champagne Stakes
Native Trail is a leading contender for the Champagne Stakes (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Native Trail is unbeaten in two for Charlie Appleby – while Eldrickjones has been running with credit, if not successful as yet, in some competitive heats for Roger Fell.

Bayside Boy, Great Max, Maritime Wings, Masekela and Zechariah also remain in the mix – with Twilight Jet a supplementary entry for Michael O’Callaghan after finishing third in the Gimcrack.

Later on the card, Danyah could make his first start in Group Two company in the Cazoo Park Stakes.

Danyah may move up in class at Doncaster
Danyah may move up in class at Doncaster (Nigel French/PA)

Owen Burrows’ charge was due to contest the Hungerford at Newbury last month before being declared a non-runner, but he could now try to transition from handicap company after a fine effort in winning the International at Ascot.

Appleby is double-handed at this stage, with D’Bai and Glorious Journey, while Aidan O’Brien has both Horoscope and Khartoum among the nine possibles.

Richard Hannon’s popular eight-year-old Oh This Is Us, Laneqash, Rhoscolyn and Rhythm Master complete the potential line-up.

Reach For The Moon in Champagne Stakes picture

Reach For The Moon looks likely to make his next appearance in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday week.

Runner-up to Aidan O’Brien’s star juvenile Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, John and Thady Gosden’s colt has since carried the colours of the Queen to impressive victories at Newbury and Sandown – most recently dominating in the Solario Stakes.

Speaking after Reach For The Moon’s stablemate Saga opened his account at Ascot on Friday, the Queen’s racing manager John Warren reported the son of Sea The Stars to be in rude health ahead of a potential outing on Town Moor.

He said: “Reach For The Moon is in really good form. He had a good blow yesterday (Thursday) and I think we’re all just getting our heads around his next start.

“He’s got an entry in the Champagne Stakes next week, so I think we’ll be looking strongly at that to see whether or not that’s where he ought to go next.

“He’s a horse that needs keeping on top of himself as he’s full of himself.

“I think John and Thady and Frankie (Dettori) think it wouldn’t do him any harm to come out again and get a bit streetwise if he’s going to be a Group One horse – the more education going into Group Ones the better.

“There’s a strong possibility that we’ll take a good, hard look at the Champagne.”

Reach For The Moon is second-favourite for next year’s Derby with most bookmakers, behind his Ascot conqueror Point Lonsdale.

The Queen and Frankie Dettori with Reach For The Moon at Royal Ascot
The Queen and Frankie Dettori with Reach For The Moon at Royal Ascot (Andrew Matthews/PA)

While Warren admits it would be fantastic for Her Majesty to have another leading candidate for the Epsom showpiece, in what will be Platinum Jubilee year, he is keen not to look too far ahead at this stage.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “I think the horse is going to have to tell us. We can predict all day long what the horse might end up doing next year.

“The Queen will have an important input, but I think this year will give us a good indication whether he’s Group One class.

“We all want to get ahead of ourselves, but I suppose the Group Ones later in the year will tell us whether we’re on track for that (the Derby) and then next spring we’ll have to see if we’re a miler or a mile-and-a-quarter horse or a mile-and-a-half horse.”

Reach For The Moon scales Solario heights

Reach For The Moon forwarded his Classic claims as he cantered home in the Betway Solario Stakes at Sandown.

Sporting The Queen’s silks, the Sea The Stars colt was sent off the 2-5 favourite for the Group Three heat after winning one of his three previous starts, and finishing second on the other two occasions – most notably when narrowly denied in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Partnered by Frankie Dettori for trainers John and Thady Gosden, Reach For The Moon settled in behind through the early stages of the seven-furlong contest – but when sent about his business, the response was instant.

Reach For The Moon easily assumed control and was soon clear, with Dettori easing down well before the line to win by four lengths from Great Max.

Coral make him a 14-1 chance from 20s for next year’s Cazoo Derby, while he is the 10-1 joint favourite with his Chesham conqueror Point Lonsdale for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas.

John Gosden said: “They didn’t go much pace, so Frankie thought he would get on with it. He didn’t think he would go to the front that fast and go that far clear.

“He did well as he has learned a lot running up the Sandown hill on his own, but he has shown a bit of class I thought.

“You have got to look towards the autumn and we would like to wind up in one of those nice Group Ones. We will see how he is over the next few days and make our decision.

“He is very progressive and has done everything right. He has developed and strengthened.”

Dettori believes Reach For The Moon is progressing with every outing.

He said: “He was quite babyish at the beginning of his career. He was quite coltish and not concentrating. With racing he is getting better and better and today he stopped his antics a little bit and he was focusing better.

“He has got a good size, a wonderful stride and he has got gears. He is a very exciting prospect.

“I was a bit concerned about the slow pace at the beginning, so I set him for home a long way out. Normally I wouldn’t do that, but I didn’t want to sit and sprint as he is such a big horse.

“He went through the gears and put daylight between them and felt good on top.

“We feel like the more he is racing, the better he is getting, so I suspect you will see him out a couple more times before the end of the season. He is a good size so you would expect him to train on.

“I suspect the Dewhurst could be the plan.”

Reach For The Moon set to star in Solario

Reach For The Moon takes the next small step in his attempt to leap up the racing ladder when he bids for glory in the Betway Solario Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.

The Sea The Stars colt, owned by the Queen and already third-favourite for the 2000 Guineas, has looked a bright prospect with a first career victory at Newbury preceded by an excellent run behind Classic market leader Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Reach The Moon had no trouble in beating Harrow by four lengths to open his account – and the runner-up franked the form at York this week.

John Gosden, who trains the youngster with his son, Thady, said: “After Reach For The Moon won his maiden at Newbury we said we would go for the Solario. I’ve been pleased with his preparation and it is always a race that I like to target.

“It is a big step up in class for him, but hopefully he can handle it. The horse that was second to him last time won at York on Thursday and that all helps.

“He is progressive at this stage of his career, but he is still a very young horse and this is another stepping stone. He is a nice looking individual that has made a good start to his career. I thought he quickened well at Newbury and I thought both divisions of the race that day were good.”

Michael Bell is counting on a change of tactics helping first time out Newbury scorer Great Max, who finished one place behind Reach For The Moon in the Chesham Stakes.

“He has got a bit to find with Reach For The Moon, who he finished behind in the Chesham at Royal Ascot. He looks a picture at the moment and hopefully he will give a good account of himself,” said the Newmarket handler.

“He was quite prominent last time in the Superlative Stakes and that probably didn’t help him, but he will be ridden differently this time.”

Andrew Balding believes Star From Afarhh, the sole filly in the field, is more than capable of building on her debut success at Newmarket.

“It is a little bit difficult to know what she beat, but there has already been a couple of winners come out of that race, so the form is working out reasonably well,” said the Kingsclere trainer.

“She is taking on the colts this time, but she is a filly that that has been working well and the seven furlongs at Sandown should suit her. She was very professional and did it well at Newmarket and her home work has improved.”

The Martyn Meade-trained Cresta is expected to give a good account of himself after accounting for the odds-on Modern Games on his debut at Leicester.

Freddie Meade, assistant to his father, said: “We always thought a bit of the horse, he has taken time to come to hand but the last couple of weeks before his run he showed us some good things.

“We were pleased with the way he did it at Leicester, although he did quite a few things the wrong way round. He was slow away and he raced alone in the middle of the track, but the times looked good and he did it nicely.

Cresta (left) makes a winning debut at Leicester
Cresta (left) makes a winning debut at Leicester (David Davies/PA)

“We thought it was worth throwing him in the deep end and see where we go. He probably wants a mile in time, but a stiff seven should be ideal now. Fingers crossed he runs well.”

Atheby may be the only maiden in the field but trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam feels the son of Guitafan could outrun his big price tag.

She said: “He finished third behind a nice Godolphin horse at Chelmsford and he was steaming at home at the finish so the extra furlong should suit. It is a small field and he will be in the hustle and bustle if he jumps well.”

Chapple-Hyam has a leading contender in Saffron Beach as she lines up for the other Group Three race on the card, the Betway Atalanta Stakes.

The New Bay filly has not lived up to the heights of her second in the 1000 Guineas, but she had a legitimate excuse for a below-par effort in the Falmouth Stakes last time.

Saffron Beach has the services of Hollie Doyle in the Atalanta Stakes
Saffron Beach has the services of Hollie Doyle in the Atalanta Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She scoped dirty after the Falmouth, but she has had a course of antibiotics. We re-scoped her after that and she was clear and she has been clear ever since,” said the Newmarket handler.

“Adam Kirby can’t do the weight and David Egan is at York, but we have managed to secure Hollie Doyle. Hollie came and sat on her on Wednesday and did a strong canter up Long Hill and she loved her.

“I’m happy with the way she has trained and I can’t fault her. I think she will love the stiff finish there. She certainly does deserve more black type.”

Last season’s Group One Fillies’ Mile runner-up Indigo Girl is expected to improve considerably for her comeback fourth at Ascot, according to Gosden senior.

Indigo Girl is expected to improve for her seasonal debut effort
Indigo Girl is expected to improve for her seasonal debut effort (David Davies/PA)

He said: “She has only had the one run this year as she has had a series of niggles that have held her back. Hopefully she will come forward for her first run.

“She over raced a little bit and she didn’t end up seeing it out. She is a strong-willed filly and as long as she puts her best foot forward she has got the ability.”

Balding is hoping Auria can handle the step up in grade as she attempts to follow up her Listed victory over the course and distance last month.

“She is an improving filly and is already a course and distance winner. There is some rain around which will suit her,” he said.

“She will stay further than this in time but she did it well here the last day but this is a much stronger race and it has been the plan since she won here last time.”

Reach For The Moon makes no mistake at Newbury

Royal Ascot runner-up Reach For The Moon carried the colours of the Queen to an impressive victory in the second race at Newbury on Friday.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the son of Sea The Stars came close to providing Her Majesty with a winner at last month’s showpiece meeting – going down by just half a length to Aidan O’Brien’s Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes.

Having also filled the runner-up spot on his racecourse debut at Yarmouth in May, Reach For The Moon was the 2-9 favourite to make it third time lucky in division two of the bet365 EBF Novice Stakes and the result was scarcely in doubt.

Always travelling strongly in the hands of Frankie Dettori, the youngster moved smoothly to the front over a furlong out before rocketing four lengths clear of Harrow.

Gosden senior said: “He was entitled to do that but there was no pace and he quickened well, that will bring him on.

“He’s a grand colt and we’ll look towards the Solario with him now.

“We could have gone straight into another Group race, but you can see he’s quite playful – we’ll leave it at that! To that extent we’ll look for a race in August and the Solario is a nice race.

“He’ll get further. He’ll be comfortable over a mile this year and over middle distances next year because he switched off with no pace today. Frankie wanted to take a lead today.

“In the Chesham there was a strip of ground from his draw in two and I told Frankie to stay straight, so he raced on his own in the Chesham.”

Intelligentsia (5-1) then made a winning debut in the royal colours in the bet365 EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.

Trained by Richard Hughes, the Exceed And Excel filly showed a smart change of gear for Pat Dobbs and looked home and hosed, only for Majestic Glory to close to within a neck.

“She’d shown plenty. She’s an end of May foal, but we gave her a swing one morning and I liked what I saw, we gave her another and she’s never let me down so we saw no point hanging on,” said Hughes.

“It was important she had a flat track and nice ground. but she’s smart.

“The Dick Poole at Salisbury, something like that in six weeks, I don’t want to rush her.

“Her brother did win over seven but ended up running over five and six, so I don’t want to bring her back to five in case she gets seven, if that makes sense.

“On her pedigree and the speed she shows, if she gets a mile she’s really good.”

The Queen went on to enjoy an across-the-card treble – from her three runners on the day – when Portfolio (9-2) made all in the Rich Energy Fillies’ Handicap at Newmarket.

Ryan Moore dictated affairs from the start on the daughter of Deep Impact, who found more when challenged by Brunnera in the final furlong to score by a length and a half for Sir Michael Stoute’s stable.