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Logician team satisfied following Newbury return

Logician pleased connections when finishing third behind impressive winner Al Aasy in last week’s Aston Park Stakes at Newbury.

John and Thady Gosden’s 2019 St Leger winner has had an interrupted career to date.

Unraced at two, he won all five races at three, culminating in Classic glory at Doncaster.

His comeback was delayed last year due to a potentially life-threatening case of peritonitis, but he returned to action at Doncaster in September with a win, although he was last of four on his only other outing at York last season.

“We were quite pleased. I know he didn’t win, but he came back fine and showed good enthusiasm,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for his owner, Juddmonte.

“Obviously he needed the race, but he’s recovered from it well and we were encouraged by that, really.

“He stuck to his task well, he stayed on, so his next race will hopefully show he’s back on track.

“He’s in the Hardwicke, which could be a possibility, but the family (of Juddmonte founder Khalid Abdullah) will decide on that.”

In a similar situation was Sir Michael Stoute’s Sangarius, who has endured several issues during his career but performed creditably behind Armory in the Huxley Stakes at Chester.

Sangarius (pink hat) chased home Armory (left) at Chester
Sangarius (pink hat) chased home Armory (left) at Chester (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Sangarius has come out of the race well,” said Grimthorpe of the 2019 Hampton Court winner.

“I thought it was a nice performance. He got hemmed in slightly, but that wouldn’t have made the difference between winning and losing, I don’t think.

“We just need a clear run with him this season, injury free.

“He has several possibilities and the family will ultimately decide, but he could run in something like the Brigadier Gerard.”

Whether the famous Juddmonte colours will be carried in the Cazoo Oaks by Musidora runner-up Noon Star has still to be decided.

“There’s no decision on Noon Star yet, the family will let me know whether she goes to Epsom or not,” said Grimthorpe.

Charlie Hills upbeat on Battaash’s Royal Ascot run

Charlie Hills has issued a positive bulletin regarding the possibility of Battaash defending his crown in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The seven-year-old, who went unbeaten last season, picked up a small fracture in the winter which led to a longer lay off than usual.

After finishing second to Blue Point in 2018 and 2019 in the King’s Stand, Battaash went one better when beating stablemate Equilateral in the race last June before going on to win the King George Stakes at Goodwood for a fourth time and the Nunthorpe at York for a second time.

“He’s been back with us a week now and straight away he’s settled back into his routine of what he has done for the last few years. I’m really pleased with him,” said Hills.

“He’s not backward in his coat, which is nice as it has been pretty cold weather. I’m really pleased with where we are with him actually.

“At the moment there’s no reason why he wouldn’t make it (Ascot). His weight is pretty good and he’s showing all the same levels of enthusiasm that he always has done, so I’m happy.”

Evergreen Dettori still revelling in the big occasion

Frankie Dettori freely admits that, at 50 years old and in the 34th season of his career, the humdrum days no longer get his juices flowing. But it is very different when he is on his stage.

The Italian has ridden winners around the world, but the place where he comes alive is on a lush green strip of turf in Berkshire.

The speculation is always rife when a seasoned professional with a glittering career behind him might be ready for the pipe and carpet slippers. Just ask six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady, who will be 44 when the season starts – ancient in NFL terms.

Yet certain things get you up in the morning. The aches and pains are lessened by the soothing balm of enthusiasm for the biggest days.

Dettori comes alive in the spotlight. He may have lived in Flat racing’s HQ of Newmarket since arriving in this country from his homeland, but it is Ascot which is his professional home and the Royal meeting, in particular, is the time and place for a clutch of Dettori’s command performances.

And in Stradivarius, he will have a chance of another milestone at the showpiece fixture, after the seven-year-old came through his prep in the Longines Sagaro Stakes on Wednesday with flying colours, beating Ocean Wind by an easy length.

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It was Dettori’s fifth Sagaro Stakes success, although the last winner of the race to go on to land the Gold Cup was Estimate in 2013. Dettori is now seeking a ninth Gold Cup triumph, and a fourth consecutive one with the Bjorn Nielsen-owned Stradivarius, who has the chance to equal Yeats’ four-timer between 2006-2009.

Dettori said: “Horses like Stradivarius are what you get up for. He had been a progressive three-year-old the season before his first Gold Cup when he had improved as the summer had gone on. We knew he had strengthened up over the winter and we genuinely thought we had a real Gold Cup contender on our hands.

“And he has just been so consistent ever since.”

Frankie Dettori leaves the weighing room ahead of the Sagaro Stakes
Frankie Dettori leaves the weighing room ahead of the Sagaro Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Much like his partner, who is as addicted to the adrenaline kick of a big winner as much he ever was. Probably more so.

Dettori and his trainer, John Gosden, realised that in Stradivarius, a chestnut with distinctive white socks on his legs, they had a rare commodity – a stayer with a turn of foot.

Dettori said: “The ground was against him on his last two runs last year, but he’s been in great form at home and he has the same old enthusiasm he has always had. He has shown us all the right signs throughout the winter.

“Bjorn was a little worried that he may not have the enthusiasm, but he has always had that and he’s shown me no signs that he has lost that. John has been very happy with him and he has the ability to win over shorter trips than the Gold Cup.

“Today, I wanted to be closer to the pace and didn’t want them to get away from me, but he has got a turn of foot and when I asked him to quicken, he got there too soon.

“He is an incredible horse and he has that extra burst.”

Dettori shows no signs of calling it a day just yet. He admitted: “Riding horses like those obviously gives you a spring in your step. I feel like a teenager when the season starts, and I still can’t wait to get going. I am as fit as I have ever been, spending time in the gym, and I look after myself, but I also must be realistic.

“I am very lucky to have a boss like John. He understands me. He’d rather have me up for the weekends and the big days, fresh and hungry, rather than slogging around the country chasing smaller prizes that just don’t motivate me anymore.

“There was a time when I wanted to win every race. I’d have driven miles for a winner, even if it was just a seller. But it is impossible to maintain that level of motivation.

“You never know what is around the corner, but horses like Stradivarius are what it is all about.”

And rather like Stradivarius at the end of his races, Dettori’s stride is not shortening. He is looking forwards. There will be plenty of time for reflection.

He said: “Yeats won four Gold Cup and people said that would never be done again, but for us, the dream is still alive!”

There is a statue of Yeats in the parade ring at Ascot. “Let’s hope they will have to make space for one of Stradivarius,” he added.

Super Stradivarius seals Sagaro success on return to action

Stradivarius returned to action with a smooth success in the Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.

Now a seven-year-old, Bjorn Nielsen’s superstar stayer showed all his old enthusiasm remains intact.

Kept in training in an attempt to emulate Yeats by winning a fourth Gold Cup back at the Royal meeting in June, the Sea The Stars entire cemented his claims as still being very much the one to beat.

Ridden by his old ally Frankie Dettori, he was content to let Stag Horn and Nayef Road set an honest gallop.

With half a mile to run Dettori had been shuffled to the back of the six-runner field, which meant he had to go from the inside rail to right around the pack just after the turn into the straight.

As Stag Horn dropped away John and Thady Gosden could watch on contently as Dettori was still going sweetly with over a furlong to run on the 4-6 favourite.

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His customary turn of foot was in evidence as he went two lengths clear and while he did begin to tire as Ocean Wind and Nayef Road closed in, Dettori did not need to get serious and just kept him up to his work to beat Ocean Wind – who ran well up in class – by a length.

As the chestnut had been well beaten in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and on Champions Day in his final two outings, the Gosdens will have been pleased with what they witnessed and the general reaction from the bookmakers was to cut Stradivarius to 6-4 to win a fourth Gold Cup.

Gosden senior said: “He (Nielsen) is incredibly sporting. To have a horse like this who has won three Gold Cups and four Goodwood Cups and a number of other races has been a dream come true. The old horse has got his enthusiasm still, as you can see. The last two races were bottomless ground and bottomless ground and he didn’t like either of them.

Stradivarius was a joy to behold at Ascot
Stradivarius was a joy to behold at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Frankie has been and sat on him since he has got out of quarantine twice. I’ve been thrilled with him all winter, he’s happy with him. All the people who work around the horse – we’ve all been very pleased with him. The horse has been his normal self.

“He ran a great race with poor old Anthony Van Dyck in the Prix Foy on decent ground. Then it was like a bicycle velodrome race in the Arc, when they trotted then sprinted in heavy ground and he didn’t like it and then the ground here was close to unraceable (on Champions Day), so I ruled those two races out.

“So I had every confidence that the enthusiasm was there. Frankie was over the moon with him – he travelled well and he thought ‘Oh, I’d better not let them get too much rope on me, and the next thing I gave him a click and he’s taken four lengths out of them in half a furlong and I hit the front too soon,’ so that’s a good sign.

“He is comfortable over this trip (two miles). He ran third to Ghaiyyath in a track-record time in the Jockey Club Stakes first time out last year in order to give him a prep. He was in the mix until the last furlong, but it was a track record and he was probably four and a half lengths off the track record over a mile and a half on fast ground.”

All roads now point towards the Gold Cup, without another run, according to Gosden.

He said: “He’s fine. He’s got the speed, but obviously he likes the Gold Cup distance, and I think we’ll come straight back here for the Gold Cup – I don’t see the point in running him anywhere else in between.

“His best surface is good ground like most horses. The summer soft, which we had last year, he can deal with. But when you get autumn, bottomless ground, no – that is not his scene. He has too good an action for that.”

A delighted Dettori said: “These horses are what you get up for. He’s been in great form at home and he has the same old enthusiasm he has always had. I wanted to be close and didn’t want them to get away from me, but he has got a turn of foot and when I asked him to quicken, he got there too soon. He is an incredible horse.

“Bjorn was a little worried that he may not have the enthusiasm, but he has always had that and he’s shown me no signs that he has lost that. John has been very happy with him all winter and he has the ability to win over shorter trips than the Gold Cup.

“Yeats won four Gold Cup and people said that would never be done again, but for us, the dream is still alive!”

Campanelle and Aunt Pearl headline American aces in line for Royal Ascot

Camapanelle and Aunt Pearl head the star quality on course to travel to Royal Ascot this year from America.

Brad Cox’s unbeaten Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Aunt Pearl is in the reckoning for the Coronation Stakes on June 18 – one of eight Group Ones throughout the famous five-day meeting, at which entries for 12 races have been published.

Aunt Pearl’s credentials are due to be tested on her comeback run in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs later this week.

She is one of eight US-trained Ascot entries, also including Campanelle – winner of last year’s Queen Mary Stakes and fourth to Aunt Pearl at Keeneland, for Wesley Ward – and Brendan Walsh’s top sprinter Extravagant Kid, who could bid to pull off the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee Group One double.

Liz Crow, who represents Aunt Pearl’s owners, reports the filly in great form as she bids to extend her record on her three-year-old debut.

“We first want to see how Aunt Pearl performs on Friday in the Edgewood,” she said.

“She is doing great at the moment. She has been training really well and we are excited to see her back out.

“Hopefully, she comes back and wins well – and then we will be able to move forward with the plan of running at Royal Ascot.”

Campanelle provided Ward with his 11th Royal Ascot success last year, before beating the boys in the Prix Morny at Deauville two months later.

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She is one of Ward’s two entries in the Commonwealth Cup, alongside Illegal Smile, while he also has Diamond Jubilee and King’s Stand aspirations with Bound For Nowhere and Maven respectively.

Frankie Dettori celebrates with Campanelle
Frankie Dettori celebrates with Campanelle (Edward Whitaker/PA)

He said: “Campanelle did us proud last year, and the owners are really excited about bringing her back for the Commonwealth Cup.

“I have had my eye on this for some time, because I think the stiff six furlongs on the straight course will suit her really well.

“We are looking to give her a prep race about a month out from Ascot, although where that will be I am not sure yet.

“Our other filly in the Commonwealth Cup, Illegal Smile, will be out in a five-furlong race on the grass at Churchill Downs. How she gets on there will determine whether she travels.”

Bound For Nowhere is a veteran of three Royal Ascot missions already, but it is not yet certain he will return.

Ward added: “Bound For Nowhere made a really exciting comeback at Keeneland recently.

“With him, we are jostling over bringing him to Ascot again or going for a Grade One sprint on Belmont Stakes day. It will be a while before we make a decision on that.”

Wesley Ward is always to be feared at Royal Ascot
Wesley Ward is always to be feared at Royal Ascot (Steve Parsons/PA)

Ward also has high hopes for Maven, and singled out recent Keeneland winner Ruthin as a major contender to add to the yard’s four previous Queen Mary victories

“The filly by Ribchester, Ruthin, produced an eye-opening performance at Keeneland last week,” he said.

“We expected her to run well going into the race. Not all horses produce in the afternoon what they show you in the morning, but she did, and it was great to see.

“She is on a direct course for the Queen Mary Stakes.”

Extravagant Kid has taken his form to a new level at the age of eight, having won the Al Quoz Sprint under Ryan Moore at the Dubai World Cup on his most recent start.

Walsh said: “Everything has been good with Extravagant Kid, and Royal Ascot is the target if all goes well between now and then.

“It was a proper performance from the horse in Dubai.

“Extravagant Kid has entries in the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee. Both races have their appeal, and it made sense to enter for both because he is quite versatile.

“We will see how each race is shaping and make our minds up nearer the time. I would not write off him running in both just yet, although I would say it is unlikely.”

A stellar home and European challenge will of course await the trans-Atlantic travellers.

John Gosden’s Lord North holds an entry to defend his Prince of Wales’s Stakes crown – with Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic-winning filly Love and William Haggas’ globetrotter Addeybb, runner-up last year, also in the mix.

O’Brien’s Battleground won the Chesham Stakes in 2020, and may be back in the St James’s Palace Stakes this time.

Supremacy aiming to advertise Commonwealth Cup claims at Ascot

Supremacy will try to boost his already strong claims for the Commonwealth Cup when he makes his seasonal reappearance in the Qipco British Champions Series horseracinghof.com Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.

The Clive Cox-trained colt had a tremendous juvenile campaign, winning the Group Two Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and the Group One Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket. He has to carry a 4lb penalty on Wednesday, for the latter success.

Supremacy was beaten on his racecourse debut last season, and Cox is pleased to be able to run him before next month’s Group One at the Royal meeting, for which he is ante-post favourite at around 9-2.

“I’m delighted that it’s this year and not last, with the chance to have a prep and not go to Ascot first time out,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“He’s done really well, but this is very much his first step back, and he comes to himself when it gets a bit warmer – so while I’m pleased we’re back in action, it is very much his first step of the year.

“He’s a wonderful horse and he’s got such an amazing temperament for a sprinter, which is why I’m really pleased we’ve got a chance to have a trial race in the build-up to Royal Ascot. That is where we’re looking for him to come to the boil 100 per cent.

“I really don’t know if we’ll run him again before Ascot. I’m very happy we’ve got a chance to run on some quick ground. A lot of these horses have been running through the winter and have had recent runs.

“This is his first step back with a penalty. I’m looking forward to getting him back on track.”

Method makes his seasonal bow for Martyn Meade
Method misses out for Martyn Meade (Francesca Altoft/PA)
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Apollo One, Mighty Gurkha and Saint Lawrence are among those taking on Supremacy – but Method will disappointingly miss the race.

Trainer Martyn Meade had been looking forward to the seasonal reappearance of his dual winner, but has ruled him out following unsatisfactory blood test results. He is now set to go for the Sandy Lane Stakes at

“I’m really disappointed because we aimed for this race as the start of his campaign,” Meade told Sky Sports Racing.

“I think he’s such a good horse, we can’t risk him I’m afraid. It’s nothing serious – I’ve erred on the side of caution.

“I think we’re going to go for the Sandy Lane at Haydock, which is not until May 22. The Commonwealth Cup is what we’re focusing on, and I think the Sandy Lane would be an ideal prep race for him going into Ascot on June 18.”

Haqeeqy impressed with his Lincoln victory
Haqeeqy impressed with his Lincoln victory (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Haqeeqy steps up to Listed company for the Charlie Waller Trust Paradise Stakes, after winning the Lincoln Handicap in eyecatching fashion on only his sixth career start.

The four-year-old, by Lope De Vega, produced a decisive turn of foot to win going away by a length and a half at Doncaster last month.

Trainer John Gosden feels this is the right opportunity for Haqeeqy on the back of that victory.

“He did it well. He finished off that race very strongly, and that’s an obvious step to go to a Listed from a race like that,” he said.

Sir Busker (white cap) claimed last year's Silver Royal Hunt Cup
Sir Busker (white cap) claimed last year’s Silver Royal Hunt Cup (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

Sir Busker won the Silver Hunt Cup over the course and distance at the Royal meeting, and also covered himself in glory in two attempts in Group company.

Runner-up in the Celebration Mile, the William Knight-trained gelding was fourth to The Revenant in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in October.

Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, said: “We’re really looking forward to seeing him run back. William is really pleased. He’s grown and has strengthened up even more during the winter.

“I’m sure he’ll come on for the run a little bit, but I’m hoping he’ll be bang there.

“It was a great performance in the QEII, and if he hadn’t have hung all the way across the track he may well have beaten Palace Pier for third.

“That was obviously very different ground to what it will be on Wednesday, but hopefully he’ll run a big race again.

“Ascot suits him perfectly. He likes to be ridden patiently. We won’t see him until late, hopefully.”

Marie’s Diamond, trained by Mark Johnston, won this race last year when it was staged at Newmarket in June because of the pandemic.

Richard Hannon is double-handed with Oh This Is Us and Qaysar, while Paul and Oliver Cole run their two-time Group-race scorer Duke Of Hazzard.

Gold Cup king Stradivarius returns to Ascot for Sagaro opener

Stradivarius starts on the road to a possible fourth successive Ascot Gold Cup when he makes his seasonal debut in the Longines Sagaro Stakes at the Berkshire course.

John Gosden, who trains the horse with his son Thady, reports Stradivarius to be in good form but expects him to come on a lot for Wednesday’s comeback outing.

The seven-year-old has to recover from disappointing showings in his last two starts of 2020, although both were run on unsuitable ground.

Stradivarius had been his brilliant self before then, winning a third Gold Cup by 10 lengths and picking up a fourth Goodwood Cup in a row. He also warmed up for a crack at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with a good second to Anthony Van Dyck in the Prix Foy at ParisLongchamp.

“He’s ready for a return. Obviously the last two races were both run in exceptionally heavy ground. He wasn’t in love with it. There was no pace in the Arc, then they sprinted,” said Gosden.

“He ran very well in the Prix Foy and did nothing wrong before that.

“He’s a seven-year-old full horse now, so to that extent age is becoming a bit of issue – maybe less so if he was a gelding, but he’s a full horse.

“But he seems happy in himself and is his usually vociferous self, so we’re looking forward to running him.

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“He likes Ascot, obviously, and I feel the trip is right to start him off at two miles. He’s a bigger, heavier horse this year so he may well need his first race.

“We’ll see how he runs. If he needs another race, there’s the Yorkshire Cup – but we’ll see.

“He’s bigger, he’s a seven-year-old and he’s weighing heavier – so to that extent he may need two races before the Gold Cup. We don’t know.”

Nayef Road won this race last year when it was run at Newcastle, but he then had to play second fiddle to Stradivarius at both Royal Ascot and Goodwood.

The Mark Johnston-trained entire is having his first race since finishing third in the Lonsdale Cup at York in August.

“If Stradivarius comes back in the same form as last year then he’ll be extremely difficult to beat,” said the Middleham handler.

“We’ve run some very good horses against Stradivarius and come second. That said, we’ve got a much stronger team this year and it’s going to be very interesting to see.

“I’d say to beat Subjectivist and Sir Ron Priestley (this season), Stradivarius is going to have to be absolutely at his best. So, if nothing else we’re going to see if that’s the case.

“Nayef Road is fine. He did have a setback at the end of last season but he seems to have got over it well, and he’s ready to run.”

As for Subjectivist, who was successful in the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night last month, he is likely to bypass the Yorkshire Cup and head for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot following his convincing victory in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan last month.

“He’ll probably go straight for the Gold Cup,” said Johnston.

Of the rest of the field, Charlie Fellowes has given Prince Of Arran stalls practice because his seasoned stayer has been slowly away in his last two races.

The Newmarket trainer believes it has worked the oracle and will help the eight-year-old show the kind of form that has seen him placed in the last three runnings of the Melbourne Cup. He was also second in this race in 2017.

Trainer Charlie Fellowes has been giving Prince Of Arran some stalls practice
Trainer Charlie Fellowes has been giving Prince Of Arran some stalls practice (Simon Cooper/PA)

“He loves Ascot, loves the quick ground. He’s done a bit of stalls work since his last two races, where I wasn’t pleased with the way he jumped out, and that seems to have done the trick,” said Fellowes.

“It’s a tough race, but we’re rated 114, and around Ascot he’s got his perfect conditions. He can run a good race. He’ll have to be very good to beat Stradivarius, but I think we can be in the mix behind him.”

Roger Teal is wary of the task facing Ocean Wind, who was running in bumpers in 2020 but has progressed through the ranks and finished second to the Johnston-trained Sir Ron Priestley in a Listed race at Nottingham last time.

“It’s a big step up for him,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“This horse never stops giving. We’ll see what happens on Wednesday and we can set our stall out for the rest of the season after that.

Ocean Wind (right) takes a big step up in class when taking on Stradivarius
Ocean Wind (right) takes a big step up in class when taking on Stradivarius (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“If he runs well in that company, we know which way we’re headed. If he’s not up to it, we know which other direction to go in. It will be interesting.

“It’s a quality field, but we like our horse and he’s done nothing wrong. He ran an absolute cracker last time. The extra two furlongs will suit him, and we’re happy with him.”

Desert Skyline, Island Brave and Stag Horn complete the seven-strong field.

Teal to make late call on Oxted’s York outing

Roger Teal will decide closer to the time whether Oxted takes his chance in the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at York next month.

Should last year’s July Cup winner sidestep the Group Two over six furlongs on May 12, he would go straight to Royal Ascot.

“He’s all good. We’re possibly heading to York for the Duke of York. We’ll just see how he is,” said Teal.

“We’ve left him in that and if we’re happy with him we’ll run him, and if we’re not happy with him we’ll wait for Ascot.”

Oxted was beaten into second place by Summerghand when bidding for back-to-back victories in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket on his seasonal debut.

The Revenant stays at home – for now

The combination of likely fast ground and travel complications mean The Revenant will run closer to home rather than go to Newbury for the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.

Trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, The Revenant won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day in October – having finished second to King Of Change in the corresponding race 12 months earlier.

A real mud lover, the six-year-old is now likely to run at Saint-Cloud on Saturday in the Prix du Muguet.

The Revenant was third on his comeback at Saint-Cloud in a Group Three this month, and Graffard has indicated he will have a Royal Ascot entry.

He said: “Everything is fine with the horse – it is just at the moment the ground is pretty dry everywhere, and it is so complicated to travel for the staff and the jockey

“We have everything against us, so I think we will just stay at home and run on Saturday in the Prix du Muguet.

“He will have an entry in the Queen Anne, but it will depend on things. We know he is very competitive in the autumn. We could save him until then – but on the other hand he is a gelding with very few miles on the clock, so he can run again.

“He will have an entry for (Royal) Ascot, but for the Lockinge it was just too hard to organise everything.”

Another star in Graffard’s stable is last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up In Swoop, who also finished second on his comeback at ParisLongchamp recently.

“I was pleased with that run, because he’s a big horse and he needed the run,” said Graffard.

“He’ll come on for that and he’s going to run in a Group Three at Deauville in a few weeks.

“He’s entered in the Coronation Cup, so we’ll see how he is before that. Hopefully (Grand Prix de) Saint-Cloud can be a target for him this summer (July 4).

“He doesn’t need soft ground – he can go on any ground.”

Contarelli Chapel powers to impressive victory at Naas

Contarelli Chapel looked an exciting prospect when making a winning debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden at Naas.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained daughter of Caravaggio showed a very impressive turn of foot in the final furlong to stamp her authority on the six-furlong contest – and the Ballydoyle trainer was quick to identify her as a Royal Ascot type.

When Ryan Moore asked her to quicken, greenness caused her to drift towards the rail but she was soon back on an even keel.

The 6-4 favourite powered away to win by five and a half lengths from Juncture, who made pleasing late progress to claim second place. Freedom Of Speech was a neck away in third.

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O’Brien said: “She was never let off the bridle at home and we knew that she would be very green when he did drop her, but she was very impressive.

“I would imagine she is an Albany-type filly. She might come back here (on May 16) before that.”

Jack Davison celebrated the biggest success of his career to date when Mooneista (17-2) powered up the rail to win the Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Woodlands Stakes.

Beaten in a handicap last time out, Wayne Lordan’s mount took full advantage of her age and sex allowance to beat Harry’s Bar by three-quarters of a length.

She was certainly bred to win the race, though, as Davison explained.

“Her dam (Moon Unit) beat her daddy (Dandy Man) in this race and they have now produced the winner,” he said.

“I’ve always thought a lot of this filly – she’s electric. She’s unbelievably determined and resolute, a great mind and a great appetite for it.

“We’ll think big and she’s in the Commonwealth Cup – we’re going to go that route.

“That’s the biggest win of my career and with a home-bred so it’s a big one. Hopefully we’ll get a few more of that calibre.

“It’s a shame my parents can’t be here, but we’ll do some celebrating tonight.”

Stradivarius returns to Ascot in Sagaro Stakes

Three-time Gold Cup winner Stradivarius returns to Ascot on Wednesday when he makes his seasonal reappearance in the Longines Sagaro Stakes.

John and Thady Gosden’s seven-year-old escapes a penalty in the Group Three as he failed to win in three outings following his Goodwood Cup success.

He will face six rivals and they include last year’s Sagaro winner Nayef Road, trained by Mark Johnston, who triumphed at Newcastle as the race was one of a number of calendar changes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nayef Road was second to Stradivarius at both Ascot and Goodwood last season.

Frankie Dettori was again jumping for joy from Stradivarius last season
Frankie Dettori was again jumping for joy from Stradivarius last season (Julian Finney/PA)

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There are two improving stayers among the opposition in Roger Teal’s Ocean Wind and Archie Watson’s Stag Horn.

Desert Skyline, Island Brave and Prince Of Arran complete the field.

Clive Cox’s Middle Park winner Supremacy is the star turn among 10 in the Qipco British Champions Series horseracinghof.com Pavilion Stakes.

As well as his Group One at Newmarket, Supremacy also won the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood.

Martyn Meade’s Method is his chief threat on official ratings, although he was well behind Supremacy in the Middle Park.

Supremacy was a Group One winner in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket
Supremacy was a Group One winner in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Mighty Gurkha and Saint Lawrence are others in the race with three-figure ratings.

Lincoln winner Haqeeqy steps up in class in the Charlie Waller Trust Paradise Stakes, which is seen as a trial for the Queen Anne.

Ridden by the now suspended Benoit de la Sayette at Doncaster, Jim Crowley takes over on the Gosden-trained four-year-old, who is owned by Hissa Hamdan Al Maktoum, daughter of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Paul and Oliver Cole’s Duke Of Hazzard has his first run since a wind operation, while Sir Busker returns to Ascot having run so well to finish fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day.

Haqeeqy shone in the Lincoln
Haqeeqy shone in the Lincoln (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Marie’s Diamond, Prince Eiji and Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone all take their chance.

Six promising three-year-olds line up in the Naas Racecourse Royal Ascot Trials Day British EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes, including Charlie Appleby’s Danilova, the beaten favourite in the Sweet Solera last year.

Eve Johnson Houghton’s Brocklesby winner Chipotle faces two other previous winners in Gubbass and The Gatekeeper as well as newcomers War Of Courage and Wrought Iron in the Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes.

Palace Pier back in style with mighty Mile performance

Palace Pier proved a class apart from his rivals as he returned to winning ways in the bet365 Mile at Sandown.

John and Thady Gosden’s four-year-old made giant strides last year, starting out with a handicap victory at Newcastle on his reappearance before winning the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He then went on to land the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville – but was bogged down by the very soft ground on Champions Day back at Ascot, losing his unbeaten record in the process.

Despite connections attempting to dampen enthusiasm before his return in terms of his fitness, he was still the 4-11 market leader against just three rivals, which included Roger Varian’s Khuzaam, so impressive when winning on All-Weather Finals Day.

Frankie Dettori had to encourage Palace Pier to take up the running from the latter with well over a furlong to run and while he did not pick up immediately, when he did his response was emphatic.

On meeting the rising ground Palace Pier found overdrive and ran out a hugely impressive eight-length winner from Bless Him in second.

On the back of his victory Paddy Power make Palace Pier their 10-11 favourite from 13-8 for the Lockinge at Newbury next month.

Frankie Dettori and Palace Pier in full flight
Frankie Dettori and Palace Pier in full flight (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Gosden said: “He was 80 per cent today, but luckily they didn’t put it up to him.

“He’s having a good blow and in terms of where we would look next, this was the right starting point.

“It should put him spot on for the Lockinge at Newbury and then we would look towards Royal Ascot (Queen Anne).

“He’s a grand horse and I’m sure he will get further at some stage,. We will put him in the Eclipse, although I’m mindful that it comes pretty close to Royal Ascot.”

Naamoos takes dramatic Esher Cup

Naamoos put up a fine weight-carrying performance to land an eventful bet365 Esher Cup for trainer Mark Johnston and jockey Ben Curtis at Sandown.

The 11-2 chance travelled up powerfully and was about to assume control when Ryan Moore’s mount Rifleman veered dramatically left and ejected the jockey, who thankfully emerged unscathed.

The incident left Naamoos in full command, and the son of Wootton Bassett pulled clear up the final hill to score by six lengths from Buxted Too, with Without Revenge four and three-quarters further back.

Johnston was on hand for the success in this historic handicap, but he admitted plans for the winner will have to go on hold while an injury he sustained early in the contest is assessed and treated.

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He explained: “Our horse has a cut on his left-hind that Ben thinks happened a furlong after the start. Touch wood it’s only a skin wound, and he’s walked in sound. The trouble with it is that it’s a V-shaped flap that will receive no blood supply from above. It might be a while before it settles down.”

Johnston hinted that the upwardly-mobile Curtis would get a good share of the rides from Kingsley House this year, though Franny Norton and Joe Fanning are not signalling their retirements are in any way imminent either.

He added: “Ben has no retainers and we said if he gives us priority we will give him the same. But there’s no hint of Franny or Joe giving up. They are a part of the operation but can’t go on forever, and we need to look at youth.”

Sandown Park Races – Friday April 23rd
David Egan and Nelson Gay in winning action (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Richard Hannon-trained Nelson Gay (9-4 favourite) turned the opening bet365 Handicap into a procession as he raced eight lengths clear of Fantasy Master.

Hughes is mindful his charge will be greeted with a reaction from the assessor and said: “He’s in at Goodwood next week and we may go there before the handicapper grabs him. We worked him with a two-year-old the other day to keep him happy.

“He’s owned by Ron Gander and my in-laws Richard and Jo Hannon.”

Frankel’s sister Chiasma was the centre of attention before the bet365 Fillies’ Novice Stakes, for which she was narrowly preferred in the betting by Nash Nasha.

The only full sibling to the highest-rated horse ever travelled smoothly under Frankie Dettori, and just for a few strides as she ranged up on the shoulder of the eventual winner two and a half furlongs out it looked like she may break away.

Nash Nasha got her head in front under William Buick
Nash Nasha got her head in front under William Buick (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

But tell-tale signs of greenness impaired her progress and meant she got into a battle with both Nash Nasha and the promising Breccia who beat her by half a length and one and a half.

Of 11-8 scorer Nash Nasha, who had raced twice last season, Charlie Appleby’s assistant Alex Merriam said: “She was carrying a 7lb penalty so you had to be pleased with that. She showed a nice attitude.”

Andrew Balding’s Juan De Montalban got the better by a length of a good battle up the hill with Fabilis in the bet365 Handicap.

His rider Oisin Murphy said: “The horse had been working really good and the owners have some lovely horses. I see him as a mile-and-a-quarter, mile-and-a-half horse that should end up in decent handicaps by the end of the year.”

Stradivarius poised to make Ascot return

Stradivarius is one of the stars set to be on show for Royal Ascot Trials Day on Wednesday.

John and Thady Gosden’s popular stayer is among 14 entries for the Longines Sagaro Stakes – a Group Three contest which acts as a perfect springboard to the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting in June.

Already a three-time Gold Cup winner, Stradivarius has returned to training as a seven-year-old with the primary objective of matching the legendary Yeats in landing the two-and-a-half-mile showpiece for a fourth time.

His potential rivals on his seasonal reappearance include Alan King’s Trueshan – winner of the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October – and the Mark Johnston-trained Nayef Road.

The latter was runner-up to Stradivarius in both the Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup last summer.

Joseph O’Brien is responsible for the three Irish-trained contenders in Baron Samedi, Master Of Reality and Twilight Payment.

Group Three honours are also up for grabs in the following Merriebelle Stable Commonwealth Cup Trial.

The six-furlong contest is set to see the reappearance of Clive Cox’s Supremacy, who claimed Group One glory in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in September.

Supremacy winning the Middle Park Stakes
Supremacy winning the Middle Park Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He could be take on by the Charlie Appleby-trained Naval Crown, who was runner-up to Tactical in the Free Handicap last week.

Martyn Meade’s Method and Mighty Gurkha from Archie Watson’s yard also feature among 11 hopefuls.

Plenty of familiar names are in contention for the Paradise Stakes, a trial for the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The 12 entries for the Listed heat include Duke Of Hazzard (Paul and Oliver Cole), Sir Busker (William Knight), Marie’s Diamond (Mark Johnston) and Stormy Antarctic (Ed Walker).

Elliptic puts down Royal Ascot marker with Tipperary victory

Elliptic emerged as a Royal Ascot candidate with an impressive victory at Tipperary on Tuesday evening.

The Donnacha O’Brien-trained filly showed a smart turn of foot in picking up her rivals from two furlongs out, running on strongly to account for Quick Suzy by a length and a half in the Yeomanstown Stud “El Kabeir” Irish EBF Fillies Maiden.

Sent off the 3-1 favourite, the Gavin Ryan-ridden winner is a daughter of Caravaggio.

O’Brien said: “A lot of mine are taking a run and she is a nice filly. She looks to be exciting, has plenty of pace and Caravaggios look very fast.

“She was working very well, working like a really nice fast filly. She was very green for the first few furlongs and I thought she wasn’t going to do anything today, but once she got a bit of light she really took off.

“We will step her up in class now, she’ll have no problem getting six (furlongs), although she was green today more than flat out. She’ll look quicker the next day with a bit of experience.

“You’d have to look at Royal Ascot. We’ll have a look at the calendar and see if we give her another run before it, but you’d be thinking she could be a Queen Mary or Albany filly.”