Tag Archive for: Sir Michael Stoute

Stoute’s Passenger ruled out of Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Ante-post favourite Passenger will miss the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot due to an infection.

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the four-year-old made a fine seasonal return in the Group Two Huxley Stakes at Chester last month, running out a length-and-a-half winner over Israr without really having to hit top gear.

That was just the Ulysses colt’s fifth career start, having won the Wood Ditton on his first run last year before going on to finish third in the Dante, disappoint in the Derby and win the Group Three Winter Hill Stakes on his final outing of 2023.

Passenger had been firmly among the leading fancies for the 10-furlong Prince of Wales’s Stakes, but Alan Cooper, racing manager for owner the Niarchos family, confirmed he will not line up.

He said: “He has an infection and it would be a race against time to have him spot on for Ascot. Hopefully he will be ready for the Eclipse, but that will be up to Sir Michael.

“We’ll get the horse right first and then we will make a plan when everybody is happy.”

With Passenger ruled out, Auguste Rodin is the new 7-4 favourite with Coral ahead of 11-4 shot White Birch, who beat the market leader in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last month.

Passenger primed for Prince of Wales’s challenge

Passenger will look to provide trainer Sir Michael Stoute with a fifth victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot next month following his triumphant return to action at Chester.

An impressive winner of of the Wood Ditton at Newmarket on his racecourse debut last spring, the son of Ulysses went on to finish a luckless third in the Dante at York before disappointing as a major contender for the Derby at Epsom.

Following a mid-season break, Passenger showed his true colours when edging out West Wind Blows in the Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor in late August and having picked up where he left off with victory in the Huxley Stakes at Chester’s May Festival, a return to the top level beckons.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Stables Ireland, said: “We were absolutely delighted with Passenger at Chester, he did it very well and everybody is very happy with him. I believe it was a track record and he couldn’t have done it any better.

“He’s lightly-raced for a four-year-old after just five starts and the plan is to go for the Prince of Wales’s, all being well.

“He ran in the Derby last year and now he is much more mature and we’ll find out more at Royal Ascot.”

2024 Lockinge Stakes Trends

The Lockinge Stakes is a Group One race staged at Newbury racecourse and run over a distance of 1 mile.

First run in 1958 the contest is for 3 year-olds and older horses and has been won 4 times in the last 13 years by the Richard Hannon yard. In recent years the race has also been dominated by 4 year-olds, with 15 of the last 20 runnings going to horses in that age group, while 17 of the last 20 winners hailed from the first three in the betting.

Here at GEEGEEZ we look back at past winners of the race, plus are on-hand with all the key ahead of the 2024 renewal - this year on Saturday 18th May 2024.

Recent Lockinge Stakes Winners

2023 - MODERN GAMES (3/1 fav)
2022 – BAAEED (4/9 fav)
2021 – PALACE PIER (1/2 fav)
2020 – No race
2019 – MUSTASHRY (9/1)
2018 - RHODODENDRON (10/3 fav)
2017 - RIBCHESTER (7/4 fav)
2016 – BELARDO (8/1)
2015 – NIGHT OF THUNDER (11/4 jfav)
2014 – OLYMPIC GLORY (11/8 fav)
2013 – FARHH (10/3)
2012 – FRANKEL (2/7 fav)
2011 – CANFORD CLIFFS (4/5 fav)
2010 – PACO BOY (8/11 fav)
2009 – VIRTUAL (6/1)
2008 – CREACHADOIR (3/1 fav)
2007 – RED EVIE (8/1)
2006 – PEERESS (4/1)
2005 – RAKTI (7/4 fav)
2004 – RUSSIAN RHYTHM (3/1 fav)
2003 – HAWK WING (2/1 fav)

Lockinge Stakes Betting Trends

20/20 – Won over a mile before
17/20 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
16/20 – Returned 4/1 or shorter in the betting
16/20 – Had won a Group One race before
15/20 – Drawn between stalls 3-7 (inc)
15/20 – Aged 4 years-old
15/20 – Had won at least 4 times before
14/20 – Winning favourites
11/20 – Having their first run of the season
10/20 – Unplaced last time out
6/20 – Godolphin owned
4/20 – Won by the Richard Hannon yard (Has won the race 5 times in all)
4/20 – Won by a mare
4/20 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
3/20 – Won by a Cheveley Park stud-owned horse (won it 5 times in all)
3/20 – Won by trainer Sir Michael Stoute (has won the race 8 times in all)
1/20 – Winners from stall 1 or 2







Infinite Cosmos primed for Middleton return

Infinite Cosmos will command plenty of attention in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies’ Stakes at York on Thursday, falling as she does into the bracket of one who could thrive as an older horse under the expert guidance of Sir Michael Stoute.

Lightly-raced with just four outings to her name, the daughter of Sea The Stars was third in the Musidora Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago but was forced to miss Royal Ascot and did not reappear until Yarmouth in September.

She was beaten there by Godolphin’s Sapphire Seas, but was perfectly entitled to be rusty after her time off and in any case ran with promise for the future.

“Free Wind and Bluestocking are obviously the form fillies, but the boss has his horses in good form and hopefully there is plenty more to come from Infinite Cosmos as a four-year-old,” her jockey Ryan Moore told Betfair.

“You’d hope there is progression in her after just the four starts, and she comes into this in good form at home.

“I’m happy with her. I think the track will suit her, as will the recent rain.”

Free Wind defends her title for John and Thady Gosden, with her liking for the track confirmed when running Warm Heart to a head in the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor meeting.

The Ralph Beckett-trained Bluestocking was fourth in that race and went on to be runner-up on British Champions Day at Ascot, while the aforementioned Sapphire Seas takes on Infinite Cosmos again.

Charlie Appleby’s filly was most recently seen finishing second to stablemate English Rose in the Balanchine in Dubai in February.

Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “Sapphire Seas had a little break after her run in Dubai and looks great heading into this. She has a bit to find on the ratings, but stepping back up in trip should suit and she deserves to be in the field. We hope that she can be competitive.”

Novus represents Gary and Josh Moore, with last year’s Oaks third Caernarfon taking her chance for Jack Channon.

Passenger promises plenty in smooth Huxley Stakes return

Passenger began what could prove to be a big four-year-old season in the best possible fashion, with a smooth victory in the IRE-Incentive, It Pays To Buy Irish Huxley Stakes at Chester.

A eighth victory in the race for Sir Michael Stoute, he looks a top-notch prospect for connections.

Not blessed with the smoothest of journeys when dead-heating for third in the Dante last year, before disappointing in the Derby, for which he was supplemented, the Ulysses colt was only seen once after Epsom, when getting home by a short head in the Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor.

In breaking the track record on the Roodee, he now looks booked for bigger and better things having beaten Israr by a length and a half to add Group Two honours to his CV.

Richard Kingscote was content to take a lead off Jim Crowley until the turned into the short straight, but once he asked his mount the response was immediate and the 7-4 scorer quickened impressively.

Paddy Power initially cut the winner to 14-1 for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, but were immediately forced to trim him into 8-1.

“I had a good chat with Ryan yesterday (about a plan) and we wanted to use Israr for as long as possible really and it’s nice when a race goes to plan,” Kingscote told Sky Sports Racing.

“This lad does battle, but obviously he’s still lightly-raced. We had to have a good battle at Windsor last year when I probably got to the front a little early. Today when he went by he didn’t hesitate and he put the race to bed really nicely.

Richard Kingscote has plenty to look forward to with Passenger
Richard Kingscote has plenty to look forward to with Passenger (Mike Egerton/PA)

“The Dante was a mess, I overcomplicated things and that was always going to be how we rode the race today, it’s nice when things go our way.”

The Derby-winning rider added on ITV Racing: “I think I let the horse down a couple of times last year, this went better so hopefully we can keep going forwards.

“Sir Michael doesn’t like bigging them up, but he’s a very likeable horse. The race was smooth for him, but you could just feel he was learning a bit on the job which is why I just feel Sir Michael loves coming here. He’s one to look forward to.

“Sir Michael has been at the top table a very long time, there’s a group of people who love him and are delighted to see him do well. Hopefully we’ve got another nice one.”

Never So Brave looks smart prospect in the making with Chester success

Never So Brave took Sir Michael Stoute’s tally for the season to two with a straightforward success in the Halliwell Jones Handicap at Chester.

Notoriously a slow starter, the three-year-old had also provided the Freemason Lodge handler with his first winner of the season, when cruising to victory at Thirsk.

That saw him allotted an opening handicap mark of 94 and on this evidence that was pretty generous, as Ryan Moore was able to sit just behind the leader before pressing the button and winning with the minimum of fuss as the even-money favourite.

He is owned by Saeed Suhail, who has had some great days teaming up with Stoute, and his assistant racing manager Philip Robinson indicated a possible Royal Ascot bid could be on the cards for a horse who was unfortunate to bump into Vandeek and Ancient Wisdom in his two juvenile starts.

“He keeps progressing. We were very hopeful. He showed some nice form last year, won nicely at Thirsk, won as he likes there and this was a step up to see how good he was,” said Robinson.

“He’s been a typical one of Sir Michael’s, just brought him along gradually to peak at the right time.

“I think he’ll be nice, but it’s difficult to say how high he could go. If he got the mile he could be a Britannia horse so we’ll have to have a chat.”

Democracy Dilemma (11-4 favourite) made full use of his low draw to win for the first time for his new connections in the CAA Stellar Handicap.

Over five furlongs a draw near the rail takes on even greater significance on the Roodee and Tom Marquand bided his time behind the pacesetters.

Bought for 105,000 guineas by Jim and Fitri Hay and sent to sprint specialist Robert Cowell, he had disappointed twice in Dubai and then refused to enter the stalls at Bath. But he looked a reformed character when getting up on the line to pip the veteran Copper Knight by a neck with a nose back to Vintage Clarets.

Marquand said: “The idea was to get him out of the gate and get him travelling in a comfortable position – when you have that draw around here you don’t want to be giving it away.

“He had some problems with the gates last time, but Jake Launchbury has done a fantastic job with him getting that sorted and he didn’t miss a beat so it was a job well done.

“The ground has sharpened up a good bit, but he had form on fast ground before. To be honest it’s all about the draw around here and we made good use of it.”

Democracy Dilemma just came out on top in a three-way photo for the opener
Democracy Dilemma just came out on top in a three-way photo for the opener (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Karl Burke-trained Teej A (4-1) went one better than on debut when quickening up on the inside for Clifford Lee in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes.

Marquand set the pace on Jessica Harrington’s Passing Phase, but Lee looked to be travelling the better with a furlong to run, just waiting for a gap on the rail as soon as he reached the cutaway.

The Mehmas filly quickly put three lengths between herself and the rest, but it was a good job she did as the 3-1 favourite Rashabar made rapid late gains, beaten two and a quarter lengths looking yet another Chester hard luck story from his stall 10 draw.

“It went pretty much according to plan to be honest,” said Lee.

“She travelled well and as soon as we got to the cutaway away she went. That was important as you can get a lot of hard luck stories here.

“She’s sharpened up a lot for her first run and she galloped through the line as well. She was green for her first run but she’s wiser now.”

Passenger embarks on ‘exciting year’ at Chester

One-time Classic contender Passenger will take flight on his four-year-old campaign in the Ire-Incentive, It Pays To Buy Irish Huxley Stakes at Chester on Friday.

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt burst onto the scene in the Wood Ditton last spring and earned a shot at the Derby when deemed an unlucky third in the Dante at York.

He ultimately disappointed in the Epsom Classic, but after a break finished his three-year-old season with a first Group-level success at Windsor to give connections hope he could follow in the footsteps of his sire Ulysses and thrive for Stoute at four.

“It will hopefully be a good start to an exciting year,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners the Niarchos family.

“He’s got some very nice entries and has wintered well and, as always, we’ll take it step by step and see how Friday goes and take things from there.

“Sir Michael takes his horses along gently and has given Passenger plenty of time to mature and Friday is hopefully the first step on a good four-year-old season.”

Stoute has won the race twice in the last 10 years with Cannock Chase (2016) and Solid Stone (2021) and also saddles Regal Reality, who is the mount of Saffie Osborne and gave a fair account on his return in the Earl of Sexton Stakes.

A man with an even better recent record is Aidan O’Brien, with the Ballydoyle handler attempting to follow up Point Lonsdale’s success 12 months ago with Hans Andersen, who is fresh from victory at Dundalk and partnered by William Buick.

Meanwhile, John and Thady Gosden’s Israr has been a consistent performer for connections and is tried in blinkers once again having sported the headgear when pipped late on in Sandown’s Gordon Richards Stakes recently.

Jockey Jim Crowley had made a bold bid for home on that occasion before being headed by Okeechobee and the King and Queen’s Desert Hero in the dying strides. Angus Gold, racing manager for the Shadwell operation, said: “He’s a funny horse who doesn’t do a lot when he hits the front and he was sort of left in front a long way out.

Israr has been a consistent performer for Shadwell
Israr has been a consistent performer for Shadwell (Tim Goode/PA)

“Obviously the other two just quickened past him up the hill but he ran well in the headgear and we’ve kept that on him.

“It’s anybody’s guess how a horse will get on at Chester, but hopefully it is a track that might suit him and it will be lovely ground I’m sure. Hopefully he will run. He’s a lovely horse to have.”

Johnny Murtagh’s Mashhoor and the Ed Bethell-trained Oviedo complete a six-strong field with Certain Lad, Royal Rhyme and Sunchart all non-runners.

‘Talented’ Nostrum makes Mile return at Sandown

Nostrum is out to prove he remains a high-class prospect when he makes his return in the bet365 Mile at Sandown on Friday.

The one-time Classic hope endured a frustrating three-year-old campaign and having missed the first half of the season due to a setback, made a winning reappearance in Newmarket’s Listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes.

However, that was the sole bright moment for the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt, who got stuck in the mud when second in Goodwood’s Thoroughbred Stakes before finishing lame when the odds-on favourite at York in the Strensall Stakes, after which his season was brought to a halt.

The son of Kingman is now back to correct a few records and after pleasing his connections in the lead-up to his reappearance, has the chance to give his handler a fourth win in the Group Two event.

Nostrum was once seen as a Classic contender
Nostrum was once seen as a Classic contender (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He’s in good shape and has had a good winter, so it will be exciting to see him back and what he can do,” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager for owners Juddmonte.

“He has won at Sandown before and that is a plus, we know he likes the track and it will be good to see him back. He’s been slightly frustrating, but we know he’s talented, so it would be nice to see it on the track.

“He’s had a pretty unremarkable prep leading into it, he’s been sound and moving well and the team there have been happy. Ryan Moore was happy last Wednesday when he rode him and it seems to have gone smoothly this spring, whereas last year we had setbacks and were always on the backfoot.

“Hopefully the ground will be good and we get to see the true Nostrum.”

John and Thady Gosden’s stalwart Lord North will drop back to a mile having failed to land a fourth straight Dubai Turf at Meydan last month.

Lord North will be ridden by William Buick at Sandown
Lord North will be ridden by William Buick at Sandown (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

The Clarehaven eight-year-old has not raced over this distance since finishing second in the Balmoral Handicap in 2019, but has become a regular figure in the biggest events over middle distances since that contest.

Roger Varian’s Charyn regularly hit the frame without getting his moment in the spotlight last term, but got the new campaign off to the perfect start when striking in the Doncaster Mile on the opening day of the Flat turf season.

He now makes the move into deeper waters and his Carlburg Stables handler warns he will need to improve to match his exploits on Town Moor.

Varian said: “He’s in good form and the race on Friday will require a bit more winning than Doncaster, it’s a strong, select field, I think.

“It’s a very solid Group Two, but the track, trip and ground should suit him and he goes there in good form.”

Charyn delivered a telling blow at Doncaster
Charyn delivered a telling blow at Doncaster (Nigel French/PA)

Poker Face claimed the scalp of the reopposing Flight Plan in Pontefract’s Pomfret Stakes last year, a victory that kick-started a three-race winning run for Simon and Ed Crisford’s representative.

His streak came to an end in Italy in November, but he reappears as the second best runner in the field on official figures, rated just 2lb inferior to Lord North.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Flight Plan ended his three-year-old season on a high when claiming the Group Two Dullingham Park Stakes at Leopardstown and will have sharpened up thanks to a racecourse gallop at Newmarket during the Craven meeting.

Hungerford Stakes winner Witch Hunter represents the in-form Richard Hannon team, with Charlie Hills’ Pogo completing the line-up.

Ganay option for returning Passenger

One-time Classic contender Passenger could make his return to action in France next month after being entered for the Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp.

An impressive winner of the Wood Ditton on his racecourse debut at Newmarket last spring, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt subsequently finished a luckless third when favourite for the Dante at York, earning himself a place in the Derby.

Passenger was disappointing in Epsom’s premier Classic, but rounded off his three-year-old campaign with a narrow verdict in the Group Three Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor – beating subsequent Caulfield Cup runner-up West Wind Blows – and the son of Ulysses appears to be closing in on a comeback.

“Passenger’s in good form, we’re just coming out of the winter and Sir Michael has made an entry for him in the Ganay,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners the Niarchos Family.

“There’s also the Gordon Richards Stakes (at Sandown), but we’ve got plenty of time to decide on the programme. We’re only at the end of March and like everyone we’d like a bit of warmth and a bit of dryness – it’s been so wet.

“His form is good, so let’s hope he progresses from his Group Three win and everyone can have some fun with him this year.”

Passenger is one of 19 initial entries for the Prix Ganay on April 28, with Charlie Appleby’s pair of Measured Time and Military Order, John and Thady Gosden’s Lord North and the William Haggas-trained Dubai Honour other potential British raiders.

Aidan O’Brien’s Luxembourg heads an Irish contingent that also includes Al Riffa and Maxux, both trained by his son Joseph, and Adrian Murray’s duo of Crypto Force and Elegant Man.

Kingscote pays tribute to Derby hero Desert Crown

Richard Kingscote has paid a heartfelt tribute to Desert Crown after last year’s Derby winner was put down on Monday.

Kingscote had not long since ended his lengthy association with Tom Dascombe to ride for Sir Michael Stoute whenever Ryan Moore was unavailable in August 2021 when he partnered Desert Crown to a debut victory at Nottingham three months later.

The Nathaniel colt was not seen again until the following May in the Dante Stakes at York, where he impressed and then headed to the Derby as the favourite.

He cruised around Epsom, running out one of the most impressive winners in recent years, but sadly only made it to the track once more and eventually his injuries caught up with him.

Kingscote took to social media to say: “I have been asked about my thoughts on Desert Crown a few times.

“Firstly I’m most sorry for the staff at Sir Michael’s who adored him and who are all heartbroken.

“Secondly I’m sorry to racing fans in that we will never get to see how brilliant he could have been. And that I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how amazing he was.

“I will always be grateful to him for looking after me on those two big days last summer, he was a gentleman and an awesome racehorse.

“I feel blessed and somewhat embarrassed that it was me who got to feel his brilliance. RIP DC.”

Derby winner Desert Crown put down due to gallops injury

Desert Crown, an effortless winner of last year’s Derby at Epsom, has been put down due to the injury he picked up on the gallops in August.

Sir Michael Stoute’s sixth winner of the blue riband Classic only ran once more following his victory last June.

A setback prevented him from running again last season and while he did make it to the track for this year’s Brigadier Gerard Stakes, he lost his unbeaten record to Hukum.

He was forced to miss the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes due to a minor setback but he suffered a much more severe one when being prepared for the Juddmonte International at York.

Desert Crown fractured a fetlock and while it initially appeared as if he could be saved and be able to enjoy a stud career, he lost the battle on Monday at the Newmarket Equine Hospital.

“There’s not a lot to say other than it is just very, very sad,” said Philip Robinson, assistant racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail.

“Everything was done to try and save him, we thought he was making progress but then he just started going backwards.

“With a severe injury like that there is a lot of pressure with the weight of the animal standing on it, but we really thought he was going to get there and it’s very sad he didn’t make it.

“You can try and help them with supports for the leg but at the end of the day they’ve got to be able to stand on their own.

“He had the best available treatment anywhere in the world, if he couldn’t be saved here then he couldn’t be saved anywhere.

“He was a fantastic horse and his Derby win was an incredible day that we’ll never forget.”

No going worries ahead of Bay Bridge Champion defence

Connections of Bay Bridge are unconcerned about conditions at Ascot ahead of the defence of his Qipco Champion Stakes crown on Saturday.

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the five-year-old produced a career best to end the unbeaten run of Baaeed in the Group One feature last season and returns to British Champions Day looking for a repeat of that half-length victory which came in the hands of Richard Kingscote.

That success came on ground described as good to soft, but having also finished second at Royal Ascot on good to firm ground last year, Bay Bridge appears to have few going concerns ahead of a race which may be switched to the Berkshire venue’s inner track if forecast rain turns conditions heavy on the round course.

Bay Bridge returns to the winner's enclosure at Ascot last year
Bay Bridge returns to the winner’s enclosure at Ascot last year (John Walton/PA)

“If he can go back and defend his crown, that would be wonderful,” said John O’Connor of Ballylinch Stud, who own the horse in partnership with James Wigan.

“At the moment the intention is to run as far as I know, but all of those final decisions will come down to Sir Michael Stoute. All I know is he was happy with him when I last spoke to him and the intention is to go to Ascot on Saturday.

“He has good form on varying ground at Ascot. He’s run well there on summer ground as well and he was maybe a little bit unlucky when touched off in the Prince of Wales’s last year.

“I don’t know myself which track they will race on, but we will just turn up on whatever track we’re told to turn up on I guess.”

A proven performer at the highest level, Bay Bridge has been a regular in some of the hottest 10-furlong contests but made a brief foray up to a mile and a half for a crack at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The son of New Bay finished a creditable sixth behind Ace Impact in Europe’s richest middle-distance contest, with an urge to hold an early position taking its toll in the closing stages of that contest.

However, he is reported to have returned from the French capital in fine shape and now returns to his optimum distance for this Champions Day appearance.

James Wigan (right) is hoping to take home the trophy again
The Bay Bridge team are hoping to take home the trophy again (John Walton/PA)

“He appears to have come out of the Arc well and he ran very well there. For the moment we’re heading directly to Ascot, hopefully still in good form,” added O’Connor.

“In terms of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, he probably did a little too much too early. You obviously need to hold your position in a race with that many runners, but he probably did a little bit too much and it probably cost him a little bit in the straight. Nonetheless he ran a really good race.”

On returning to 10 furlongs, O’Connor said: “It looks like that (is his best distance) and his highest ratings are at that trip, so hopefully dropping him back will be beneficial to him.”

Bay Bridge team buoyed by Stoute’s desire to go for Arc glory

Bay Bridge has connections dreaming of Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe glory as he heads to ParisLongchamp for a blockbuster renewal of the European middle-distance championship.

Bay Bridge lowered the colours of the all-conquering Baaeed when scooping Champion Stakes gold at Ascot last year, but the proven Group One performer will be making just his second start over a mile and a half in the French capital on Sunday.

Course experience was banked when third in the Prix Ganay earlier in the season and the final piece of the Bay Bridge jigsaw was completed when proving his suitability over the 12-furlong trip with an emphatic success in the September Stakes earlier this month.

That Kempton event has been used as a timely stepping stone to Paris in the past and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained five-year-old fared best of the British challengers during Thursday’s draw in stall six – the spot that has provided the most Arc success this century.

“We’re heading there and hoping for a good result,” said John O’Connor of Ballylinch Stud, who own the horse in conjunction with breeder James Wigan.

“We think based on his last run that he gets a mile and a half. He’s well proven over a mile and a quarter, but he appears to get a mile and a half well enough judged on the September Stakes, which has been used as a Prix de l’Arc prep previously by Enable. So it’s a proven path if you like.”

Remarkably Stoute has just one Arc victory on his illustrious CV, but few in the training ranks possess a wealth of experience as great as the master of Freemason Lodge.

And it is the 77-year-old’s desire to run in the race which has given his owners the belief their charge could make his mark in one of the year’s most fiercely competitive contests.

Jockey Richard Kingscote celebrates with horse Bay Bridge after winning at Ascot last season
Jockey Richard Kingscote celebrates with horse Bay Bridge after winning at Ascot last season (John Walton/PA)

“He’s a very good horse, but obviously the Arc is a very difficult race to win,” added O’Connor.

“It’s regularly the highest-rated race in the world and we’re under no illusions that it is a competitive race and hard to win.

“But we think he is in there with a good chance and he’s trained by a maestro who has already won the race, so he knows what it takes to win it. He’s keen to run him and we’re happy to go along with that.

“Everyone knows how hard it is to win the race, but we’re going to give it a shot.”

Sir Michael Stoute will saddle Bay Bridge at ParisLongchamp
Sir Michael Stoute will saddle Bay Bridge at ParisLongchamp (Mike Egerton/PA)

Stoute’s sole Arc victory came curtesy of Workforce who carried the famous Juddmonte silks to victory in 2010 and the Abdullah family’s racing operation – who have enjoyed Arc glory with Enable in the last 10 years – will be optimistic of celebrating another triumph with the Ralph Beckett-trained Westover.

“We’re looking forward to it and he’s in good form at home,” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager for the owners.

“His preparations have gone really well, both Ralph and Rob (Hornby, jockey) are really happy with him and as I say, he’s had a smooth run into it.”

A winner of the Irish Derby at three, he has taken his form skywards this term, finishing no worse than second in four starts, all at Group One level.

Westover has been in top form this season
Westover has been in top form this season (Niall Carson/PA)

The son of Frankel has already tasted success in France at Saint-Cloud earlier in the season and having got bogged down in deep ground when sixth in this race last season, conditions should suit this time ahead of his second bite of the Arc cherry.

“He’s a better horse now at four, both physically and mentally, and is in a good place,” continued Mahon.

“He’s been to France and Dubai this year and travelling doesn’t seem to bother him and hopefully that is a plus.

“He’s obviously had two hard runs his last two races and we probably won’t see the full effect of them, if there is any, until he runs on Sunday.

“But the ground looks like it will be better than last year which will suit and he has had his few days away (racecourse gallops) and a break since the King George. There have been no blips along the way and hopefully that will equate to a good run on Sunday.”

Westover was last seen going down valiantly in defeat as Owen Burrows’ Hukum prevailed in a thrilling finish to the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Both horses have not been seen since as their respective trainers elected to send their candidates across the Channel with a full petrol tank and despite a tough draw in stall 14 to overcome, connections of Hukum are keen to see how the thriving five-year-old fares against a talented cast of rivals.

“It’s very exciting, Owen decided to keep him fresh (after Ascot) hoping to get him there in good shape,” explained Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell.

Westover (left) and Hukum (right) fought out the finish to the King George And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot
Westover (left) and Hukum (right) fought out the finish to the King George And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (Adam Davy/PA)

“There’s a reason it is one of the best races in the world, it is very hard to win.

“It will be fascinating this year to see if the two really good French three-year-olds and the likes of Continuous and Fantastic Moon are good enough to take on the older horses. That is the interesting puzzle this year and obviously we won’t know until Sunday.

“It’s very exciting to go out there with a chance, it’s a shame about the draw but there is nothing we can do about that so we are just going to have to work our way around it, hope for a little bit of luck, and see how we get on.”

Aidan O’Brien has won Europe’s richest middle-distance contest twice in the past and his St Leger hero Continuous is the sole Ballydoyle contender this time around, dropping back in trip following his Doncaster Classic triumph.

Only two weeks have passed since his victory on Town Moor, but O’Brien is confident the son of Heart’s Cry will justify connections decision to supplement the colt into the contest at a cost of £120,000.

O’Brien said: “Every horse is different and every year is different, but it is two weeks and it is quick enough for going back. You’d prefer three or four weeks really, but I suppose he has been busy and he’s a hardy type of horse now. Obviously we’re hoping, he seems to be in good form.

“You’re obviously never sure when you turn around that quick and he is only a three-year-old, but he’s a hardy, mature horse. He’s done plenty of racing and he has had breaks in between his runs.

“We’re very hopeful, he’s a good, strong traveller, he’s relaxed and he’s got form in all types of ground and he is tactically quick enough, but you never know until you do it, really.

“He’s not dislike (2016 winner) Found, he’s a good, strong traveller. He handles fast ground and he does quicken and gets the trip very well. He probably gets the trip better, Found just got a mile and a half but this horse won a Leger so obviously gets further. But class might have helped him do that and not stamina.”

Nostrum to bypass Newmarket Challenge

One-time Classic hope Nostrum is unlikely to return until next season after connections ruled out an outing in Friday’s Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards Challenge Stakes at Newmarket.

Having rounded off his juvenile campaign with a third placed finish in the Dewhurst, the Kingman colt was considered a legitimate 2000 Guineas contender before injury intervened in the spring.

A spectacular return in a Listed event at Newmarket’s July meeting suggested Nostrum was ready to make up for lost time, but he suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Epictetus on his next start at Goodwood and finished lame when trailing home last of six in York’s Strensall Stakes last month.

The three-year-old is now back in work, but he will not take up his engagement on the Rowley Mile this week and connections are preparing to draw stumps for the season.

Barry Mahon, racing manager for Nostrum’s owner-breeders Juddmonte, said: “He won’t run on Friday, I spoke with Sir Michael this morning and he just wants to give the horse more time.

“It’s more than likely you won’t see the horse until next season.”

Starlore out to emulate crack sire in Solario Stakes

Starlore bids to add his name to an illustrious roll of honour in the Virgin Bet Solario Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.

The Group Three contest has proved a breeding ground of champions in recent years, with star miler Kingman (2013), Derby hero Masar (2017) and triple Group One winner Too Darn Hot (2018) all on the winners’ board.

Like his sire Kingman, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Starlore carries the Juddmonte silks and is well fancied to successfully step up in class after making a winning debut over the course and distance.

While the margin of victory was only a nose, the form looks strong, with the third placed Arabian Crown now a Listed winner and the fifth home Devil’s Point subsequently scoring at Ffos Las.

“He’s had a nice amount of time since his first race and it’s going to be another stepping stone,” said Juddmonte’s racing manager Barry Mahon.

“Hopefully he’ll have improved. He’ll need to improve, but hopefully he will.”

David Menuisier’s Devil’s Point was only a length and a half behind Starlore in early July and is set to take him on again after a demolition job in Wales three and a half weeks ago.

His trainer would, however, like to see some rain in Esher.

Menuisier said: “Devil’s Point ran well at Sandown on his first start. He was a bit green, but the form of the race is good, with Arabian Crown subsequently winning a Listed race.

“I’m hoping that the rain comes and there’s a significant amount to make the ground slower than good, as that would help us.

“The horse has been absolutely fine and has improved after each race so we’ll see how he goes.”

The bang-in-form Ralph Beckett saddles impressive Leicester victor Mortlake, while Charlie Appleby is represented by Aablan, who justified cramped odds on his introduction at Newmarket.

Speaking on the Godolphin website, Appleby said: “Aablan has done well since winning on his debut and we feel that the stiff seven at Sandown will suit.

“Like the rest of the field, we are dipping our toe at this level for the first time and it should hopefully provide a nice springboard into an autumn campaign.”

Cerulean Bay has his sights raised by David O’Meara following a couple of low-key wins north of the border, with maiden success at Hamilton followed by a novice victory at Ayr.

The field is completed by Brian Meehan’s Inishfallen, who turns out little over a week after finishing third in a valuable nursery at York.