Clive Cox is predicting a bright future for Diligent Harry after his third place in the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle.
Taking on older horses for the first time, the three-year-old was beaten by Chil Chil and Good Effort but Cox was excited by what he witnessed.
The trainer had hoped to run Diligent Harry in the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot, but the ground turned soft and he was taken out on the morning of the race.
“I thought he ran a super race and he’s come back well,” said Cox.
“He’s clearly progressing at a very good level still.
“He was coming back at them again at the line and he’s an exciting prospect at this stage of his career.”
Diligent Harry holds Group One entries in the July Cup and the Flying Five at the Curragh but Cox will not rush into a decision over where he heads next.
He said: “We’ve covered all entries but we’ll work out the best route forwards as we progress. We’ll just sit on the fence a little bit and see how we feel through the next week, but he’s a very exciting prospect and I’m so pleased to have him on our hands.”
Cox will, though, be represented in the July Cup by Supremacy, another who missed the Commonwealth Cup due to the testing conditions.
“We’re very much intending to go the July Cup route, all going well,” said Cox.
“As we are at the moment, that is very much the plan. Ascot was frustrating but it can happen.”
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Clive Cox expects Supremacy to show his true colours in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, following a below-par run on his seasonal debut.
Last season’s Middle Park Stakes hero disappointed in the Pavilion Stakes, the official trial for the six-furlong Group One, but has been pleasing Cox in his preparation for the big day.
The Lambourn trainer said: “Supremacy had a disappointing comeback run, but clearly he wasn’t right for that – which wasn’t obvious before.
“We’re certainly very happy with the way he has trained in the meantime, and I’m hoping he can put that run behind him.”
Cox may have a second Commonwealth Cup contender too with Diligent Harry, who has won three of his four starts on the all-weather.
“Another one possibly is Diligent Harry,” he said.
“He’s yet to run on the turf and missed his intended starts in the Carnarvon (at Newbury) and Sandy Lane (at Haydock) because of very soft ground.
“He’s a very exciting, unexposed turf campaigner who did remarkably well on the all-weather.”
Cox’s team at the Royal meeting includes Nando Parrado, who caused a 150-1 upset at Ascot in the Coventry Stakes last summer.
“Nando Parrado is very much an intended runner in the Jersey, over seven,” he said.
“He didn’t stretch out over the mile. But we’ve campaigned him on soft ground on numerous occasions, and I’m looking forward to running him back at Ascot – which definitely brought out his best performance in Group Two two-year-old winning form.”
Get Ahead is one of several exciting juveniles Cox is looking forward to running.
He has the Queen Mary Stakes in mind for the Showcasing filly, who won her only start so far at the Berkshire track last month.
“We’re hopefully going to be well represented in most of the two-year-old races, as long as they are healthy and well,” said Cox.
“We have a very nice filly in the Queen Mary in Get Ahead. We have Caturra in the Coventry; Instinctive Move will look towards the Norfolk, and Crazyland will run in either the Albany or the Queen Mary.”
Tis Marvellous is on target to appear at the meeting for the fifth year running.
The sprinter heads for the Wokingham Stakes, in which he was second in 2019 and fourth in 2018. The Harbour Watch gelding was fourth in last year’s King’s Stand Stakes, and sixth in the Commonwealth Cup in 2017.
“We’ll have Tis Marvellous, who loves Royal Ascot, in the Wokingham,” said Cox, who also intends running Streamline.
“He was a Group Three-winner at two and missed last year because of injury. He’s another potentially exciting prospect back in handicap company.
“Dance Fever is in the Buckingham Palace, and we might have a few more in the handicaps. It depends how the weights look.”
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An unsatisfactory blood test has provided an explanation for Supremacy’s lacklustre performance in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.
The three-year-old was sent off 10-11 favourite for last week’s six-furlong contest, a recognised trial for the Group One Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot next month.
Supremacy already has winning top-level form – having completed a hat-trick of victories last season in Newmarket’s Middle Park Stakes – but his return this year was a disappointing one as he finished last of eight.
The outcome of a blood test has since shed some light on the uncharacteristically poor run.
Trainer Clive Cox said: “We have had a less than perfect blood result from him.
“We’re leaving no stone unturned in the hope of rectifying the situation, which was far below expectations.
“We’ve had many tests – and without having a complete conclusion yet, we’re hoping we can get him back on the right track.”
Supremacy was in fine shape in preparation for the race, allowing a helpful comparison between test results before and after his poor performance.
Cox added: “He’s a horse of such a high standard – undoubtedly we wouldn’t have been there if we hadn’t been happy with him.
“Although he’s got such a laid-back temperament and way about him, it’s a just a relief.
“It’s flagged up less than perfect, which wasn’t the case before.
“We’ve got a bit of time to decide what’s next, and hopefully that will become clear over the couple of weeks.”
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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.”
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 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 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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Middle Park winner Supremacy is to spearhead an exciting crop of three-year-olds for Clive Cox this season.
Also an impressive winner of the Richmond Stakes last season, the Mehmas colt will be kept to sprinting trips – with the Commonwealth Cup his first major target as Cox contemplates the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot and the Sandy Lane at Haydock as starting points.
With Qipco 2000 Guineas candidate Nando Parrado and 1000 Guineas contender Isabella Giles also in the yard, Cox can not wait for the season to click into gear.
“I’m very pleased with all three of them,” he said.
“Supremacy will stay at six furlongs, so we’re looking at the Pavilion, the normal sprinting route – with possibly the Sandy Lane en route to Royal Ascot and the Commonwealth.
“He’s wintered really well and looks very strong. I’m very pleased with him indeed.”
Of his Coventry Stakes winner, he said: “Nando has done very well after a good season last year, winning at Royal Ascot and then positive Group One performances in the Morny and the Lagardere.
“We’ll be looking at one of the trials for him – but I very much intend to run him in the Guineas, all being well.
“He does handle soft ground but won at Ascot on a quicker surface. I’m pleased with how he has done physically.
“He was a very able two-year-old who has done well over the winter so I see no reason why he can’t maintain that performance at the top level at three.”
Isabella Giles won the Rockfel Stakes by two lengths but disappointed on her final outing of the campaign. She will also be aimed at a Guineas trial.
“The filly has done very well too – she’s done some nice work and is making good progress,” said Cox.
“I think she had a busy enough time in the autumn, and we probably ran her once too many by the time of the Fillies’ Mile, and she’d just gone off the boil.
“I would be very pleased with her now. She’s a Group Two winner at two, and her work is pleasing me at the moment to suggest we can look forward to what she does at three.
“It’s really nice to have the conversations we’re having at this stage, and we’re looking forward to more of them hopefully as the season progresses.”
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Clive Cox remains optimistic Nando Parrado can develop into 2000 Guineas contender next spring, despite his defeat in Paris on Sunday.
A shock 150-1 winner of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, the Kodiac colt went on to prove that effort was no fluke when runner-up to American challenger Campanelle in the Prix Morny at Deauville.
Nando Parrado was an odds-on favourite to claim Group One honours as he stepped up to seven furlongs for last weekend’s Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, but was beaten eight lengths into second place by Sealiway, in a race run in very testing ground.
Cox said: “Nando has come back from France well.
“It was very extreme conditions that we ran in. The winner obviously relished it and it was softer than we’d ever encountered before, but he’s come back fine and we still know we’ve got a proper horse to look forward to next year.
“We’ll put him away now and I very much hope that (2000 Guineas) will be the target.
“It was his first try over seven furlongs the other day and it was a little bit inconclusive with underfoot conditions as bad as they were and I’m sure he’ll stay a bit further next year.”
The Lambourn handler has enjoyed another excellent season with his two-year-olds, with the star of the show being Supremacy following his top-level win in last month’s Middle Park Stakes.
Cox added: “Supremacy has finished for the season, but we couldn’t be more pleased with his efforts and results this year.
“He’s put in some seriously top-class performances and it was great for him to sign off with a Group One.”
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Supremacy led his rivals a merry dance and held off Lucky Vega to win the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.
Clive Cox’s youngster had impressed in the Richmond Stakes last time out, but the quality of the race was so deep that Supremacy was sent off a 13-2 chance.
Given a strong wind at the track, Adam Kirby employed the same prominent tactics as he had done when winning the Rockfel Stakes on stablemate Isabella Giles 24 hours earlier and Supremacy was never really headed.
His task was made slightly easier by halfway when Frankie Dettori’s saddle slipped on the keen-going Method and he had to call it a day before the race began in earnest.
Shane Foley was eager not to give the leader too much rope on favourite Lucky Vega, but Minzaal was dropped right out at the back and ended up making up plenty of ground into third.
Supremacy was not for catching, though, prevailing by half a length, with Minzaal beaten a further two and a quarter lengths.
“It was superb. I’m overjoyed. He has been amazing really. From the Richmond, I think he has continued developing and strengthening all the time,” said Cox.
“He is a complete speedball and likes to get on with it. Adam has ridden him beautifully and got the fractions right. I’m just delighted the way he has finished off.
“I’m really excited about him next year, as he has got more development and strengthening to do over the winter. He is just pure class.
“I don’t think we will be stretching beyond six. I don’t think we need to when he shows gears like that. That is precisely what we will be concentrating on and polishing what we have got.
“(This year’s Commonwealth Cup winner) Golden Horde had a little bit more size and scope at this stage of his career and was second in this race. He is another very good horse, but most importantly they are both talented.
“He has got that speed and that is what he likes to get on and do. We realised at Goodwood it was certainly not the wrong way to ride him. I’m just very happy how it has all panned out.
“I wouldn’t have thought he was overlooked, but some people obviously thought it – people have short memories.
“We’ve had a tremendous season, especially with the two-year-old crop as they have been amazing.
“Any winner is special, but that feeling of standing on that stand, even though there wasn’t a huge crowd around us, it was still extremely satisfying.
“We had a wonderful Royal Ascot as well and it has been a wonderful year for us, in spite of the shenanigans.”
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Minzaal and Supremacy are on course for a mouthwatering clash in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Since finishing a promising fourth on his Ascot debut in late July, the Owen Burrows-trained Minzaal has shed his maiden tag at Salisbury and run out a thoroughly impressive winner of the Gimcrack Stakes at York.
Connections are looking forward to testing his powers at Group One level this weekend.
Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said on Monday morning: “That (Middle Park) is the plan for Minzaal.
“Owen has been very happy with him since York. I’m sure he has another bit of work to do later in the week, but provided that goes well, hopefully we’ll see him on Saturday.”
Clive Cox has confirmed both Supremacy and Nando Parrado for the six-furlong contest.
Supremacy was last seen dominating his rivals in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood, while Nando Parrado proved his 150-1 victory in the Coventry at Royal Ascot was no fluke by filling the runner-up spot in the Prix Morny at Deauville last month.
With ground conditions on the Rowley Mile on the quick side of good, Cox is favouring running Supremacy this weekend, with Nando Parrado potentially waiting for the seven-furlong Dewhurst Stakes next month.
Speaking on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast, Cox said: “Nando Parrado would appreciate a drop of rain. We’re very keen at some stage to step him up to seven furlongs, but we’ll be keep the option open – if the ground did ease significantly, then we’ve got that base covered.
“We’ve left him in, but he probably won’t be declared if it doesn’t rain. He’s going to stay another furlong and probably even a mile next year – he’s a very exciting prospect.
“Supremacy is a proven horse on top of the ground. He was a very impressive winner of the Richmond, he’s in good form and he would be our chosen runner on Saturday, all being well.
“We did think about the Gimcrack (at York last month), but he didn’t scope perfectly. It was a minor issue – everything is fine now. He’s a lovely horse with a lot of speed.”
Martyn Meade’s unbeaten colt Method is also among the 10 colts confirmed, as are Michael Bell’s Norfolk Stakes winner The Lir Jet and the Queen’s Windsor Castle and and July Stakes victor Tactical, trained by Andrew Balding.
Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Lipizzaner and St Mark’s Basilica, Jessica Harrington’s Lucky Vega and John Murphy’s Charterhouse are possible challengers from Ireland.
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