Love conquers all – Act Seven
Dettori ticks off another milestone
Royal Ascot is real again
Cromwell – man for all seasons
Kemari cracks Vase for Appleby
Marco Ghiani is a rising star
… and so is Laura Pearson
Love conquers all – Act Seven
Dettori ticks off another milestone
Royal Ascot is real again
Cromwell – man for all seasons
Kemari cracks Vase for Appleby
Marco Ghiani is a rising star
… and so is Laura Pearson
Bookmakers were still ahead after day two of Royal Ascot, even with Love obliging for favourite-backers in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
Aidan O’Brien’s magnificent filly saw off Breeders’ Cup heroine Audarya in an epic battle, returning as the 11-10 market leader.
But she was the only winning favourite – and even victory for the ever-popular Frankie Dettori came through 22-1 chance Indie Angel. There was another 22-1 winner in Chipotle, while Hunt Cup victor Real World was sent off at 18-1.
Coral’s David Stevens said: “Love was not what we needed in the Prince of Wales’s, as plenty of punters kept the faith in the filly despite her long absence.
“However, Real World’s victory in the Hunt Cup could hardly have been bettered, while Indie Angel was that rare thing – a Frankie Dettori winner at Ascot that the bookies could cheer!
“With Wesley Ward drawing another blank, overall it’s been a winning Wednesday for us, although with Frankie and his old ally Stradivarius to come in the week’s biggest betting race, the Gold Cup, we’re not cracking open the bubbly just yet.”
Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “We kept Love onside, but she still proved very popular in the feature which was a pretty bad result for the layers. However, the bookies soon took revenge when Real World, who was friendless because of his draw, chinned ‘the jolly’ in the Royal Hunt Cup and it was a second winning day for the books.”
Nicola McGeady for Ladbrokes agreed, as a gamble on Kaboo in the Windsor Castle went astray and just the one winner for Dettori floored the inevitable multiples.
She said: “Two days down and there are no complaints from us. We had a cracking result in the Royal Hunt Cup, the massive gamble on Kaboo failed to land, while victories for Quick Suzy and Kemari were also welcomed.”
Laura Pearson marked the inaugural running of the Kensington Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot by leading home a memorable one-two for trainer David Loughnane on Lola Showgirl.
Pearson, still a 5lb claimer as she continues her rise to prominence as one of the emerging stars of the weighing room, is just the fourth female jockey to win at the meeting – and the first to do so as an apprentice.
She had Lola Showgirl perfectly positioned and stretched clear into the straight – where it soon became apparent that only her stablemate Ffion, ridden by Richard Kingscote, was close enough to mount a meaningful challenge.
But Pearson and her willing partner had matters under control, staying on with great determination as the 12-1 winners by three-quarters of a length – for not only her first Royal Ascot success but Shropshire trainer Loughnane’s too, in the new handicap for fillies and mares.
Pearson has ridden at Ascot a few times previously, but was making her debut at the showpiece meeting.
The 20-year-old said: “I don’t even know what to say. It’s just incredible. I knew she had a chance and was a strong contestant for my first Royal Ascot ride.
“I took a break at the end of the all-weather season to protect my 5lb claim for the turf campaign and it’s paid off.
“I had an absolutely lovely run, she bowled out, she’s been running over seven (furlongs) but Mr Loughnane said she’d want every stride of the mile.
“She bowled out, got into a lovely rhythm and just kept plugging on for me.”
She added: “That was my first Royal Ascot ride. I’ve ridden at Ascot about three or four times before this.”
“Hollie (Doyle) helps me so much, as well as Hayley (Turner), I can’t thank them enough for the amount of times they’ve given me a hand and it’s paid off.
“It’s just unimaginable, honestly, I dreamt of it but I never thought it would happen.”
Loughnane said: “Some kids dream of being footballers, singers and superheroes – this is my dream. To be living it is very surreal so quickly in my career. Myself and (wife) Sarah are so grateful to our families, our owners, our staff. It might take a while to sink in, this.
“It was a case of who do you cheer for, and I think the chant became ‘come on, girls!’. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t fancy them both coming in today. I couldn’t split them. Ffion probably has more ability while Lola Showgirl, as she showed today, is just so tough. She loves a fight.”
“I’m delighted for the owners, delighted for the staff and it’s one that will live long in the memory.”
He went on: “I’ve been a fan of Laura for a long time. I’d seen her riding when she went up to David Evans as an apprentice. I was impressed by her then and we’ve tried just to support her as much as we could since, and she’s rewarded that support tenfold.
“She’s as cool as a breeze – whether she’s from off the pace or is in the front, she’s got her sectionals to the second. Her first ride at Royal Ascot…that’s a hell of a ride. She’s repaid our faith in her and I couldn’t be happier for her and everyone else involved.”
Frankie Dettori and Aidan O’Brien – two of the racing world’s very leading lights – both reached 75 winners at Royal Ascot on the second day of this year’s meeting.
Dettori’s success was something of a surprise on 22-1 shot Indie Angel in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, while Love provided a much more expected triumph for O’Brien in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes as the 11-10 favourite.
Indie Angel, trained by John and Thady Gosden, was just what the doctor ordered for Dettori on the eve of going for a fourth consecutive win in the Gold Cup aboard Stradivarius.
He is, though, taking nothing granted and knows what the two of them have to do.
“I’m not lying – I’m nervous. I’m not over-excited, I’ve got a job to do,” said Dettori, who still has some way to go to reach Lester Piggott’s haul of 116 wins at the Royal meeting.
“There’s a lot more runners than I thought – some he has not met before – and then there is the question mark of the rain so there’s a lot of things to be worried about. He still has to turn up.”
The 50-year-old Italian could not happier with the way Stradivarius is before his date with destiny.
“I’m very pleased with the horse. His home work has been good. His demeanour is good,” he said.
“He’s trying to do something that is rare. Only Yeats has done it, so I’ve still got to go out there. Me and him have to perform at our very best and I’ve got to get him over the line.
“It’s a big milestone. I was nervous when I rode Enable in her third Arc. I was nervous yesterday with Palace Pier.
“Nervous is good. It means you care and you’ve still got your eye on the ball. I know how to channel my emotions and to channel it in the right way.”
Yeats, who achieved the feat in the four years from 2006 to 2009, is the most successful horse in the Gold Cup history.
He was trained at Ballydoyle by O’Brien, who has now equalled the late Sir Henry Cecil’s tally of Royal Ascot winners thanks to Love making a successful seasonal reappearance.
O’Brien recalled the day Cecil won the Oaks at Epsom at his expense when Light Shift took the fillies’ Classic in 2007, with his Peeping Fawn beaten half a length in second place.
“I remember Sir Henry won the Oaks and we were there. He was an unbelievable man and the presence he had when he walked into the parade ring,” said O’Brien.
“When I started training it was a privilege to meet him.”
As ever, O’Brien showed his humility by playing down his role in the Ballydoyle operation.
“I’m in a very privileged position. I’m a small part of a big team and grateful to everybody for everything, he said.
It will probably not be too long before O’Brien has that particular training record to himself.
John Gosden will consider upcoming options for Lord North after he missed the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Fast ground at the Berkshire track meant the five-year-old was denied the chance to defend his crown in the Group One showpiece, with his trainer taking the view conditions were too quick for his gelding – who was last seen winning the Dubai Turf in March.
An obvious next target would appear to the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, although that race has been marked out for the reappearance of brilliant stablemate Mishriff – and could even be a target for Queen Anne winner Palace Pier, should Gosden and son Thady opt to step him up in trip.
The Clarehaven trainer said: “I was hoping the ground would be all right for him, but it is too quick – as it was for William Haggas’ horse Addeybb. He will be doing the same. He’ll be looking at the Eclipse Stakes.
“We’re not afraid of running our horses against each other. I do like to see how they come 10 days after racing. Ascot to the Eclipse is always close. It would be 18 days for Palace Pier.”
Rising star Marco Ghiani gave a jubilant celebration as he stormed to victory aboard Real World for Saeed bin Suroor in the Royal Hunt Cup.
The talented apprentice had fellow Godolphin runner Eastern World from Charlie Appleby’s yard for company as the pair blazed along on the far rail – but once Ghiani hit top gear on the 18-1 winner he shot clear.
It was all over from there, and even though 11-2 favourite Astro King tried to make late gains he was still four and three-quarter lengths adrift. Grove Ferry and Ouzo took third and fourth respectively.
Ghiani said: “He often misses the break, but to avoid that he was blindfolded and went in late.
“I managed to stay next to William Buick and at the two he was quickening away while looking at the crowd.
“He’s a bit of a baby and an improving horse with few races under his belt.
“I walked the track and hoped we would stay on the rail.
“He is an improving horse, he is still a bit of a baby.”
He added: “I want to say thank you to Stuart Williams (boss) and Mr Bin Suroor and Sheikh Mohammed.
“Thank you very much everyone.”
Bin Suroor said: “When Marco came in to ride him I said if you want to be famous you must win on him at Royal Ascot.
“I liked him last year when we looked after him, but this year he’s started to show us something.
“He can miss the jump, but not today, and when I saw him on the bridle at halfway I thought he could win.
“He handled the ground well and I shall look at Listed or Group Three options for him.”
Chipotle sparked scenes of delight in the winner’s enclosure with victory in the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes.
Starting at 22-1, the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained youngster – winner of the Brocklesby at Doncaster at the start of the season – travelled at the rear of the group on the far side of the track in the hands of Charlie Bishop, who timed it to perfection in picking off his rivals.
Dig Two was two and a quarter lengths back in second, with Boonie another head away in third. But it was another disappointing race for American trainer Wesley Ward, with his Frankie Dettori-ridden favourite Ruthin ultimately well beaten having led for a long way.
Bishop said: “I was quite keen to get a level break, but he bunny hopped when the stalls opened and I had to be patient. But I got a dream run through.
“We’ve always liked him and we never pressed any buttons when he won the Brocklesby and that race here, but at Sandown he didn’t like the soft and I didn’t give him the best of rides.
“Eve’s a brilliant trainer and I feel quite emotional that she’s kept the faith with me.”
Johnson Houghton said: “He’s a horse that trains himself. He travels and when you ask him off he goes. He’s an absolute dude of a horse and he didn’t enjoy the soft ground at Sandown.
“All through the day I felt we couldn’t win from stall one, but then after the Hunt Cup I thought we did have a chance. Charlie had the courage to stay on the far side, and off a rattling fast pace he really picked up.”
Love had to battle hard for a triumphant return in what proved to be an epic renewal of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic heroine was back on a racecourse for the first time in 300 days, since completing a clean sweep of three 2020 victories when she added the Yorkshire Oaks to her 1000 Guineas and Oaks successes.
In the absence of Lord North, who would have been her market rival but was pulled out of his attempt to defend his crown here because of fast ground, 11-10 favourite Love made all – but had a fight on her hands all the way up the straight as James Fanshawe’s Breeders’ Cup winner Audarya launched a persistent challenge.
But Love would not be denied and was on top at the line by three-quarters of a length from Audarya, who was also having her first run since last year, with O’Brien’s second-string Armory third.
Ryan Moore had the winner settled in front, with Audarya and My Oberon pulling hard behind, and Love’s relaxed demeanour – on the fast ground which suits her so well – helped her keep enough in hand when she needed it in the final two furlongs.
O’Brien was full of praise for Love’s tenacity, as a daughter of Galileo – and Moore’s successful tactics.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said.
“We were a little bit worried coming here today, because she was prepared for a few runs and didn’t get to run.
“To come into a race like this without a run was a big disadvantage.
“She has all the attributes of a Galileo. When you really want them – I knew watching Ryan’s body language, the mare was galloping with her head on the ground, and she was only waiting for Ryan to say ‘come on’.
“I knew when he did that, she would find for him – and that’s exactly (what happened). She gives all, this filly.
“That’s an unbelievable trait, and probably the most important trait in any thoroughbred – and she has it in spades, multiplied by 10.”
Love lived up to all her trainer’s expectations.
He added: “She gives everything. There’s nothing left, nothing spare – whatever you want she’s there to answer all the time.
“She was vulnerable today, at the distance – and making her own running, as the race came together there was no pace in it.
“Ryan did a great job, doing enough for her to win and at the same time not doing (too much) because he knew Armory was going to be coming from the back, and was prepared for the race.
“It was brilliant really. He gave her a great ride, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to have her.”
A return to Ascot for next month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes appears to loom large for Love – although the shorter Eclipse at Sandown is also a possibility.
“The lads (owners Coolmore) will decide what they want to do,” said O’Brien.
“Obviously she has all the options, the King George, an Eclipse, all those kind of races.
“You’d think hard about the King George, see how she is. If the ground was nice, high summer – after being round the track here – they are the type of races to suit her.
“She definitely has to be in the reckoning for a King George – but we’ll see shortly.
O’Brien does not discount a meeting later this year with this year’s Oak winner Snowfall.
“Obviously, come the autumn, if they decided to do that it’d be unbelievable – and we’d be delighted, really,” he said.
Love was O’Brien’s 75th Royal Ascot winner, putting him level with the great Sir Henry Cecil.
He was characteristically humble about the achievement, with a filly who has already reached great heights and has potential for much more.
“We feel very privileged to be in that position – we’re a small part of a big team, and very grateful to everybody for everything,” he said.
As for Love’s possible future status as one of Ballydoyle’s all-time best, he said: “I think she could (be).
“She’s fresh now – and probably to her advantage, she hasn’t had the miles in that bad ground early on in the year, which can often affect them late.
“So she’s probably had an ideal preparation into the summer and autumn – she’s very versatile and genuine. Anything is possible with her now.”
Fanshawe was equally proud of Audarya, who looks set to be major player again this season wherever she goes.
The Newmarket trainer said: “We were absolutely thrilled with the way she ran. It was a very solid run and proves she’s progressed again.
“Love is a very good filly, but it looked at the furlong pole like we were going to give her a race. William (Buick) reported the pace wasn’t that strong. We may head for the Romanet or the Nassau, and keep her to her own sex.”
Frankie Dettori posted a landmark 75th Royal Ascot winner as John and Thady Gosden’s Indie Angel sprang a surprise in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes .
Dettori, striking for the second time for the Gosdens at this year’s meeting, bided his time on the 22-1 winner as Parent’s Prayer set out to make all and then Lady Bowthorpe made her bid for Group Two glory.
The Italian manoeuvred into position to challenge on the stands side, took over from eventual runner-up Lady Bowthorpe and had two and a half lengths to spare at the line – with favourite Queen Power staying on to take third, just another short head away.
Indie Angel, owned by Cheveley Park Stud, was overturning last month’s Newmarket form – having finished only fourth in the Dahlia Stakes behind both Lady Bowthorpe and Queen Power, over a furlong further than this.
“Everything fell right today,” Dettori said.
“She likes faster ground, cover, and she likes plenty of room – she got all three of those things.
“Well done to the Gosden team, the Clarehaven team.”
Gosden said: “In fairness she won very well last backend, it went a little wrong and I probably ran her before she had come to herself in the spring and she had a little complication in her last race. But we knew she could be competitive with the top fillies – (but) to say that she’d win by two and a half lengths? No, that would have been wishful thinking.
“She relaxed beautifully and she’s bloomed. She looked a different filly today than when we last ran her back in May.
“You’ve got to be looking forwards. She’s now won a Group Two so maybe you start trying to climb even higher up the ladder. We won it last year (with Nazeef) and there are nice races like the Sun Chariot and the nice fillies’ race (Falmouth) at the July meeting for her, so those are possibilities.
“Right now, we’re savouring this moment.”
Of Lady Bowthorpe, trainer William Jarvis said: “All credit to the winner who was very impressive, but I feel easier ground would have suited us better.
“When a filly is running as well as she is my inclination is not to give her a break. She’s in the Falmouth, but ideally I would love her to try at a mile and a quarter on decent ground in the Nassau (at Goodwood), with the Sun Chariot a possibility longer term.”
Sir Michael Stoute added of Queen Power: “She’s a model of consistency, that’s for sure, and I guess the trip was a little short of her best.”
Charlie Appleby’s Kemari belied his inexperience to win the Group Two Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot on just his third career start.
William Buick, striking for the second time at this year’s meeting, always had Kemari close to the pace just behind the leaders before challenging early in the straight and striking for home.
It proved the right move as the Dubawi gelding surged clear and then had enough in hand in the final furlong to comfortably resist the late challenge of Aidan O’Brien-trained favourite Wordsworth.
The 15-2 winner had a length and a half to spare at the line, as Wordsworth stayed on strongly after being unable to find a change of gear when it mattered most, and Stowell was another length and a quarter back in third.
Kemari, who made his debut when second at Newmarket little more than a month ago before winning a Yarmouth maiden, clearly relished the step up in trip as he provided Godolphin trainer Appleby with his first winner of this race.
Appleby said: “I must give the team at home a lot of credit for this. He’s been a challenging horse at home during the course of the winter. He was gelded and had a hood on his first start, so all credit to them – they’ve done a great job.
“And William, he placed him highly after that win at Yarmouth. I have to say, I sat on the fence and thought he was a horse that was progressing, but whether he’d be progressing quick enough to step up into today’s league – he’s proven me wrong and William right.
“The horse is definitely going the right way.”
He went on: “He’ll hopefully make up into a Cup horse for next year. The last few years, three-year-olds in the Melbourne Cup have produced the goods, so whether he gets to that level, we’ll see.
“We’ll enjoy today and have the discussions with our principles and managers during the next few weeks and map the autumn out.
“He’s a horse that’s got a profile working in that direction (Melbourne), but whether he goes there, we’ll enjoy today and have the nice discussions over the next few weeks.”
Asked about the possibility of tackling super stayer Stradivarius in next month’s Goodwood Cup with a hefty three-year-old allowance, Appleby replied: “We’ll wait for a couple of days and see how the Gold Cup goes!
“He’s a horse that’s come to hand over the last eight weeks now, so whether that might be a step too soon for him, it’s a nice discussion to have.”
John Gosden was pleased with the effort of Stowell, who is now set to head to Newmarket next month.
He said: “He had to come round the wide route on only his third racecourse outing. It was a pleasing effort and we will take a look at the Bahrain Trophy at the July meeting.”
Quick Suzy provided trainer Gavin Cromwell and jockey Gary Carroll with their first Royal Ascot success in the Queen Mary Stakes.
Carroll delivered Quick Suzy from off the pace on the stands side to challenge favourite and eventual runner-up Twilight Gleaming a furlong out, stretching clear to win by a length and a quarter at 8-1 – with 50-1 outsider Cheerupsleepyjean almost another two lengths back in third.
County Meath trainer Cromwell is more often associated with success over jumps – including at Grade One level at the Cheltenham Festival – but is adept on the Flat, too.
Quick Suzy, a maiden winner at the Curragh last month and then a Group Three runner-up at Naas, has nonetheless broken new ground for the yard with her Group Two victory.
Cromwell said: “She won her maiden very well, it was an auction maiden that doesn’t carry as much weight, she was very convincing there – then she went to a Group Three the last day in Naas and just didn’t quite see out the six furlongs on soft ground. But she showed blistering pace, so we were definitely coming here.
“(The fast ground) was an unknown, she’s a very good mover but she’d never raced on it.”
Asked to compare Royal meeting success with Cheltenham Festival glory, Cromwell – who won the Champion Hurdle in 2019 with Espoir D’Allen – added: “It’s centre stage and any race when you’re centre stage is fantastic.
“On a stage like this, you’re definitely going to get a buzz.”
The daughter of Profitable was recently bought by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners LLC, and Cromwell said: “The plan was she was to remain with me for Royal Ascot and then she was going to go to America. You wouldn’t know, but we might get to twist their arm and hold on to her and go to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Carroll said: “Every step of the way I was trying to make sure the American horse didn’t get first run on me. She’s game and she battled all the way.
“I rode her over six furlongs at Naas where she showed so much natural speed. You need these big wins to get yourself on the platform.”
Of Twilight Gleaming, trainer Wesley Ward said: “We did everything right, but didn’t win. It was a clean trip and the first two fillies came clear. It was a good run.
“We’ve come back before and we might do that (run again in Britain) this time.”
History beckons for Stradivarius as he chases not only a fourth Gold Cup at Royal Ascot but a fifth successive victory at Flat racing’s showpiece meeting.
As a three-year-old the chestnut won the Queen’s Vase back in 2017 – and that Group Two only hinted at the success-laden career that lay in wait for him.
He immediately took on his elders in the Goodwood Cup, making use of the weight allowance and while a Classic success in the St Leger eluded him by half a length, his four-year-old career was a perfect one.
A Yorkshire Cup, a first Gold Cup, another Goodwood win and a Lonsdale Cup preceded a victory on Champions Day and only a nose defeat to Kew Gardens in the corresponding race 12 months later prevented him from going two seasons unbeaten.
Last year connections experimented with his trip with the intention of running in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and while that did not come off, he showed he was as good as ever on his return in the Sagaro Stakes.
“He seems to love his training still, he still seems to love his racing,” said John Gosden.
“He can be very naughtily behaved beforehand and think he’s in the covering shed – not at the racecourse – but when it comes to the race and he gets down to the start, he can look at a mare and think ‘OK, I’ve a job to do’.
“He worked on the July Course last week and I was very happy with him. Touch wood, we’re ready to go again.”
Stradivarius would join Yeats as the only other horse to have won four Gold Cups, and Gosden believes his first was his stiffest task when beating Vazirabad, Torcedor and Order Of St George.
“He has been remarkable. He has this exciting turn of foot,” said Gosden.
“I think the toughest race of his life was his first Gold Cup against the great French stayer (Vazirabad), but overall I think his record stands up.
“His win in the Sagaro was tidy, pleasant, he (Frankie Dettori) didn’t ask him too much so let’s hope he’s ready for the big one again.
“I’d like to get through Thursday before deciding what next. I know where he (owner Bjorn Nielsen) would like to run, but there’s nothing wrong with five Goodwood Cups is there!”
He did have one word of caution, however – the weather.
He said: “I fear one thing for Stradivarius – thunderstorms – because he has this wonderful turn of foot after two and a half miles but the wet ground, soft ground, blunts it, so we’ll see how we go.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the new boy on the block, Subjectivist, and a lot of respect for Alan King’s horse (Trueshan), although he would prefer a downpour. There’s no doubt Subjectivist adds a lot of spice to the race.”
Subjectivist is certainly the new kid on the staying block. His trainer Mark Johnston has thrown the likes of Dee Ex Bee, Nayef Road and other good stayers at Stradivarius in recent years, all to no avail.
However, Johnston believes the four-year-old is his best chance chance of downing Gosden’s stayer given the way he won the Prix Royal-Oak in France and the Dubai Gold Cup last time out.
“He did have an injury in that Dubai race. It’s taken him a little while to come back from that and as a result we haven’t had any race in between,” said Johnston, who revealed his colt also had a fall at home recently but escaped injury.
“I think this is the best horse I’ve gone to war with Stradivarius with. We know what a tall order that is – we’ve finished second to him so many times before.
“I won’t be looking at tactics to beat Stradivarius, we’ve just got to hope that we’ve got the best horse on the day.”
Nayef Road is back for more, in a race which forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.
“Nayef Road is going to Ascot on the back of two disappointing performances, but while his second in the Gold Cup last year was with cut in the ground, we had previously always thought he was better on fast ground,” said Johnston.
“We are hopeful that on better ground we’ll see him back to his best, although there’s obviously some rain forecast on Thursday so we have to be prepared for that.”
Alan King’s Trueshan had Stradivarius a long way behind him when winning on Champions Day – but conditions were testing then and the Barbury Castle trainer has stated plenty of rain will need to fall for him to run.
King said: “He’s been declared, but we are very reliant on thunderstorms hitting Ascot. He’s in great nick and I couldn’t be happier with him, but if it doesn’t rain he doesn’t run. It will have to go to good, or good to soft.”
Aidan O’Brien, who trained Yeats, threw a curve ball last week when supplementing last year’s surprise Derby winner Serpentine.
Winless since his incredible Epsom display, in which he made every yard of the running, he had an unusual prep for a two-and-a-half-mile marathon by running in the Tattersalls Gold Cup over an extended 10 furlongs.
“Obviously we won’t know if he stays the trip until he runs over it, but we always thought he’d stay further than a mile and a half,” said O’Brien.
“He seems to be in good form at home, he’s had a run this season and we’re hoping he’ll run well.”
The Ballydoyle handler also runs Santiago, who won the Queen’s Vase at the meeting last year before going on to glory in the Irish Derby.
“Santiago is in good form and this has always been the plan for him. He’s had his two runs already this season and we’ve been happy with him since his last run at York,” said O’Brien.
Andrew Balding’s Yorkshire Cup winner Spanish Mission is another with a live chance.
“I’m really pleased with Spanish Mission. I thought it was a really good effort at York, but he faces some mighty opponents here in the likes of Stradivarius, Subjectivist, and Santiago, not to mention Serpentine, who I wasn’t expecting,” said Balding.
“It’s a really intriguing race, as a Gold Cup should be, but Spanish Mission is in great form. It’s another two furlongs further than the Doncaster Cup, which he won last year, but I’d be hopeful that he’ll stay.”
Late Derby absentee Mohaafeth gets the chance to strut his stuff in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
William Haggas agonised over whether to run his exciting colt in the Classic following heavy rain the day before.
He decided to keep his powder dry and aim for Ascot instead – yet with thunder storms forecast, the Newmarket handler fears his chance may be compromised again.
However, there appears no question of him not running following a promise to Sheikha Hissa, daughter of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who founded the Shadwell Estate Company.
“He obviously doesn’t want much rain but he’ll run, I promised Sheikha Hissa he’d run at Ascot regardless,” said Haggas.
“It’s just the way it is, it’s typical.
“Everything has been good with him, he’s in great form and he really is a lovely horse, we just won’t see him at his best on soft ground – but that’s the way it is.
“He’ll still run a good race, he’s very well.”
Charlie Appleby’s One Ruler did run in the Derby won by his stablemate Adayar and finished sixth, just as he had in the 2000 Guineas. Appleby also runs Secret Protector.
Aidan O’Brien is represented by Roman Empire, who was fourth in the Dante when ridden by Hollie Doyle, and Matchless.
The weather apart, it promises to be a good day for Haggas, with Second Wind in the Norfolk Stakes and Aldaary in the Buckingham Palace carrying high hopes.
Unbeaten in two starts to date, with his latest run at Salisbury boosted by the runner-up since, Second Wind would like the rain to come, as he prepares to go up against the Wesley Ward-trained pair of Lucci and Nakatomi.
Haggas said: “I think he’ll enjoy some dig in the ground and that might not help Wesley’s horses, so I was quite keen to have a go. There was some cut in the ground when he won at Salisbury, I think he enjoys that.”
Aldaary was last seen finishing third at Goodwood, and Haggas has listened to jockey Jim Crowley in going for the Buckingham Palace.
The Newmarket handler said: “He’s an interesting one. He’s a nice horse. He was too far back last time out behind Rhoscolyn.
“It was very much Jim Crowley’s idea to come for this, I hadn’t given it a minute’s thought. I didn’t want to go for the Britannia because he’d have had nearly top-weight. Jim said had I considered the Buckingham Palace, I hadn’t, but I did and I thought it was perfect.”
Returning to the Norfolk, the aforementioned Ward seems to favour the John Velazquez-ridden Lucci over his stablemate, although the latter recorded a strong speed figure when beating stablemate Happy Soul on his one run to date.
The merit of that effort was seen subsequently when Happy Soul absolutely bolted up at Belmont Park. Qatar Racing bought into Nakatomi after his win, and as a result Oisin Murphy takes the ride.
Ward said: “At home, we have been working Lucci and Nakatomi together. Nakatomi was coming out on top, but then they had a workout in Newmarket on the Limekilns and Lucci turned the tables. He just bounced straight through to the front and would not give up the lead.”
There are plenty of others to watch, too, in what looks a strong renewal of the Norfolk, among them O’Brien’s once-raced Cadamosto and the Clive Cox-trained Instinctive Move, the mount of Derby-winning rider Adam Kirby.
George Scott is another trainer looking forward to chances on day three, chief among them George Peabody in the Britannia.
Progressive with two wins in novice company this year, the Holy Roman Emperor gelding is making his handicap bow – in what has been a long-range plan.
Scott said: “We’ve been aiming at this race a very long time. He was impressive at Doncaster and then followed up under a penalty at Thirsk. He’s a cool horse to train, very relaxed and straightforward.
“Obviously we need an enormous amount of luck, but I couldn’t be more pleased with him.”
Stablemate Too Friendly runs in the same colours of Bill and Tim Gredley, as he goes in the King Edward V Stakes.
The Camelot colt won well at Doncaster in March, leading to a crack at the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom, finishing sixth to Wirko.
Scott said: “I’ve been really pleased with his preparation. In hindsight I think Epsom came a little quick for him after winning at Doncaster, so we deliberately put him away and waited for Ascot.
“He’s wearing first-time cheekpieces and they seemed to have had an effect at home.”
Among the King George opposition is the O’Brien-trained Sir Lamorak, a winner at Dundalk in March and impressive after that in a Leopardstown handicap.
Ryan Moore rides and told Betfair: “He doesn’t want much rain, but I think he has a big run in him if the ground remains decent. He may be 15lb higher than when winning for me at Leopardstown back in April, but you had to be very impressed by what he did that day, and I think he is a good colt. And hopefully one better than his current mark of 100.”
An intriguing renewal of the Ribblesdale Stakes has attracted Sir Michael Stoute’s impeccably-bred Noon Star – a late defector from the Oaks but whose three-and-three-quarter-length second to Snowfall in the Musidora does not now have the slightly disappointing look to it that it possibly had at the time.
She gets has the opportunity to show what might have been at Epsom as she clashes with O’Brien’s Oaks third Divinely, while Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain also runs after being well-beaten in the Classic, for which she attracted a raft of support in the market beforehand.
Campanelle will face 20 rivals as she bids to double her Royal Ascot tally, in the Commonwealth Cup.
Wes Ward’s American raider won the Queen Mary at the meeting last year, before going to strike Group One gold in the Prix Morny, but she suffered defeat on her final start of the year at the Breeders’ Cup.
The Kodiac filly will be having her first start of the year in Friday’s six-furlong Group One, which has drawn a strong field.
Clive Cox is triple-handed – with last year’s Middle Park hero Supremacy, All-Weather Championships sensation Diligent Harry and the dual Group-winning filly Isabella Giles.
Archie Watson’s prolific Dragon Symbol also features – along with the likes of Sacred, Jumby, Method, The Lir Jet and Dandalla.
A strong Irish contingent will take their chances too – with Ado McGuinness’ A Case Of You, Laws Of Indices and Miss Amulet from Ken Condon’s yard, Aidan O’Brien’s Lipizzaner, plus Measure Of Magic and Mooneista.
The unbeaten French challenger Suesa is also an interesting contender, for Francois Rohaut.
Derby also-ran Gear Up tops the eight lining up for the King Edward VII Stakes – but all eyes are likely to be on William Haggas’ Alenquer, who beat subsequent Derby hero Adayar on his first start of the year in the Sandown Classic Trial.
Impressive Goodwood scorer Flotus is one of 15 in the Albany Stakes – while Epsom winner Oscula represents George Boughey, along with stablemates Cachet and Hellomydarlin.
O’Brien’s Friendly is top weight in the Sandringham Stakes, for which a full field of 30 plus two reserves has been declared.
There is also a full quota – of 19, plus two reserves – for the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap, with Alounak at the top of the racecard, while 25 are declared for the closing Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes, including last year’s Queen Mary third Caroline Dale, set to mark her first start of the campaign.
Classic winners Mother Earth and Empress Josephine head 13 contenders for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The pair are both trained by Aidan O’Brien, with Mother Earth having lifted the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket at the beginning of May – before finishing second when trying to double up in the French equivalent later in the month.
Empress Josephine landed the Irish 1,000 Guineas for the Ballydoyle team, despite not making her racecourse debut until March this year.
O’Brien’s sons Joseph and Donnacha will be in opposition on Friday – respectively with Pretty Gorgeous, a Group One winner as a juvenile but only seventh in the Irish 1,000 Guineas on her seasonal bow, and Shale, also a top-class two-year-old who finished fifth in a Guineas trial in April.
The home defence is headed by Primo Bacio – bidding to continue her swift rise through the ranks for Ed Walker, having won a York Listed heat by a cosy three lengths last time after finishing a close-up fourth in the Fred Darling as a 100-1 shot.
Fred Darling winner Alcohol Free will re-oppose, but she has two lengths to find with Mother Earth from Newmarket – where she finished fifth in the Guineas.
Newmarket third Fev Rover will try her luck again – with Potapova, an unbeaten eight-length Redcar novice winner, a fascinating entry for Sir Michael Stoute.
Jessica Harrington’s Oodnadatta and the Henry de Bromhead-trained Flirting Bridge further enhance the Irish challenge, while German 1000 Guineas winner Novemba adds an extra international element.
Richard Hannon’s Snow Lantern and Lullaby Moon, from Ralph Beckett’s yard, complete the line up.
Lord North will not contest this afternoon’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The five-year-old won the 10-furlong feature last year and had been set for a high-profile clash with dual Classic winner Love.
However, with the ground officially described as good to firm, trainers John and Thady Gosden have declared their charge a non runner.