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Starman to kick off campaign with York outing

Ed Walker intends to start his smart sprinter Starman in the Duke of York Clipper Logistic Stakes on the Knavesmire in May.

The four-year-old son of Dutch Art only made his racecourse debut last July, but quickly made his mark when winning his first three races, culminating in a Listed contest at York in September.

On the back of that, Starman was given a first Group One opportunity in the British Champions Sprint but he could not handle the testing conditions at Ascot and finished down the field behind Glen Shiel.

Walker feels it is best to ignore that run and he is looking forward to the 2021 campaign.

“He’s in the Duke Of York. That will be his starting point for the year and we’ll go from there,” said the Upper Lambourn trainer.

“He’s done great. He’s a big horse. He did well to do what he did last year. He has filled his frame and strengthened up – we’re very excited.

“He was an unbeaten Listed winner and went to Ascot in the mud and didn’t like that.

“We’re hoping that back on a sounder surface, he’ll be back to his best. Sometimes it’s not at that meeting at York, but we’ll just have to hope for some fast ground.

“He had looked good and we’ll put a line through Ascot last year, the Champion Sprint. We hope to get him back on track.”

Amniarix heads to Kempton on Monday
Amniarix heads to Kempton on Monday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Walker reports Amniarix to be heading to Kempton for the Racing TV Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes at Kempton on Easter Monday.

He has had this Listed contest in mind since the daughter of Speightstown completed a hat-trick at Wolverhampton in January.

“She on course for the Snowdrop. She’s in good form and that has been the target since she won in January,” he said.

“We’re looking to get some black type.”

Marquand and Addeybb primed for Champion Stakes glory

Tom Marquand has already enjoyed plenty of memorable moments in the saddle this year and Addeybb will bid to give him another on Saturday in the Qipco Champion Stakes.

For some 2020 cannot end soon enough – but for Marquand, who this season has landed a first Classic victory aboard Galileo Chrome in the St Leger and a breakthrough Royal Ascot success, it could be about to become even better.

Having steered the William Haggas-trained Pivotal gelding to a brace of Group One victories in Australia earlier this year, the 22-year-old will attempt to guide the six-year-old to further top-level glory in the mile-and-a-quarter prize at Ascot.

Though Addeybb, who finished second in the race 12 months ago, is yet to score in his four previous outings in Group One company in Britain, Marquand believes he has every chance of changing that statistic at the weekend.

Addeybb (yellow colours) chased Magical home 12 months ago
Addeybb (yellow colours) chased Magical home 12 months ago (Simon Cooper/PA)

Marquand said: “He is a dual Group One winner, but British racing probably thinks he is a horse that can’t win a Group One over here which is a shame.

“He bumped into Magical at Ascot in the race last year and if you can run three-quarters (of a length) second to something like that, you are a solid Group One horse.

“Hopefully this is his go at giving it a proper shot. What will be will be, but hopefully he can put his best foot forward and run his heart out.

“It is going to be an ultra-competitive race, as it should be, but what a great ride to have in the race.”

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While Addeybb appeared to make hard work of landing a Listed contest at Ayr last time out, Marquand is far from concerned about the performance.

He said: “He was giving weight away to horses like Lord Glitters, and he is no mug – he has won a Group One. It’s a hard thing.

“I was speaking to Harry Eustace, who looked after him in Australia, on the morning of the race and I said I would probably still have to give him a couple of flicks and that he wouldn’t go through with it on the bridle and win, because that is just not him.

“Lo and behold he came off the bridle at the three pole and looked in trouble, but I gave him a couple of flicks and he just stuck his head down and went through with it.”

Tom Marquand is confident William Haggas will have Addeybb in perfect order for his latest Group One assignment (Nigel French/PA)
Tom Marquand is confident William Haggas will have Addeybb in perfect order for his latest Group One assignment (Nigel French/PA)

With that outing expected to have put Addeybb spot on for his Group One return, and conditions in his favour, Marquand has every right to be hopeful.

He said: “You would like to think he is spot on and William has had a few years of practice with him in getting him ready for certain days and he has pretty much nailed that.

“Hopefully we get a sensible draw and the ground we want, then after that it is on him. I think he is a horse that deserves to win a Group One in Britain.”

Starman will be pitched into Group One company for the first time at Ascot on Saturday (Mark Cranham/PA)
Starman will be pitched into Group One company for the first time at Ascot on Saturday (Mark Cranham/PA)

Marquand will look to strengthen his partnership with Ed Walker-trained Starman when he puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Qipco British Champions Sprint.

He said: “He has had a flawless career so far, he is three from three and very exciting.

“I think he has surprised a lot of people. He only just scraped home at Lingfield, but I got off him and I was convinced he was nice and only going through the motions.

“He wouldn’t want the ground too soft, but he will go there regardless. He is on an upward curve and it is certainly worth a try to see if he can continue it.”

With Starman having successfully taken the step up to Listed company in his stride last time out at York, Marquand believes it was an effort that can be upgraded given things conspired against him

He added: “His last run was particularly impressive. He put it to them in a very competitive Listed race at York, beating Dakota Gold who is a fair yardstick.

“Everything went wrong for us there, but he still managed to come out on top being relatively inexperienced.

“Hopefully he is the sort of horse that can step up and be on the sprinting scene for the next couple of years.”

Victory for Starman would be particularly sweet for Marquand, with it coming less than four months after losing the ride aboard his stablemate English King in the Derby.

He said: “It is nice for Ed, as he had all the excitement with English King earlier in the year and that never really materialised and it is great he has such another exciting horse come along so quickly to back up in the same year.

“It was never an issue losing the ride on English King, I get on great with Ed and we’ve had plenty of winners in between and hopefully I will have a few more.”