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Salouen nearing a comeback run after two-year absence

Sylvester Kirk’s former Group contender Salouen has returned to training after more than two years off the track and could make a comeback at Lingfield on Saturday.

The seven-year-old was last seen running in the Irish St Leger in 2019, a race in which he finished ninth after a season contesting top-calibre mile-and-half races such as the Coronation Cup and the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

The 2018 Coronation Cup was the scene of the bay’s career-best performance, where he started at 33-1 and ran a mighty race to finish just a head behind the 2-7 favourite Cracksman.

An injury halted his career the following autumn, but Kirk has been carefully rehabilitating the gelding with a return to action always under consideration.

An entry has been made for the Listed Betway Churchill Stakes on Saturday and while the race may come too soon, it is likely that an all-weather track will be the scene of Salouen’s comeback as the All-Weather Championships are a possible target.

“He’s in great form but it’s 50-50 at the moment, he just might need the run or we’ll wait a little bit longer,” said Kirk.

“What the aim is and what we’ll do with him I’m not sure, but he’s happy, he’s sound and he’s working well – he might just need a little bit longer.

“He’s been here the whole time, he’s had a lot of time off and on the walker, we’ve just taken it very easily.

“We’ve taken a lot of care and time with him. We’ve just looked after him and he’s come along and he’s doing well, so I made that entry but it’s probably a little bit too quick.

“We’ll have to see what there is for him, maybe with a view to getting him through to the All-Weather Championships.

“We’ll just keep training him and keep him going as long as he’s happy.”

Great Max stakes Chesham claim with triumphant Newbury bow

Great Max appears to have earned himself a last-minute ticket to Royal Ascot after making a winning debut for Michael Bell in the Betfair Racing…Only Bettor Podcast Novice Stakes at Newbury.

A 260,000 guineas yearling purchase for owners Amo Racing Limited, the Wootton Bassett colt was a 4-1 shot for his racecourse introduction over six and a half furlongs in Berkshire.

Having been ridden prominently throughout, Jack Mitchell’s mount displayed a smart change of gear to get up and beat the wayward Harrow by three-quarters of a length – setting up an intended tilt at the Chesham Stakes on Saturday week.

Winning trainer Michael Bell said: “He’s been working well at home and we were hopeful that he could do something like that.

“Provided he takes the race all right and eats up and trains well next week, he’ll run in the Chesham.

“There haven’t been many suitable maidens to run him in, but we’d had this plan in mind for a while.

“Phase one has gone according to plan, so if all goes well for the next week, we’ll head for Ascot.”

Sylvester Kirk admitted relief was his overriding emotion after Seattle Rock (5-2) made the most of having her sights lowered in division one of the Betfair British EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.

The daughter of Fastnet Rock was placed in the Chesham at Ascot, the Sweet Solera at Newmarket and the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood as a juvenile last season.

Having also been set two demanding tests this spring – finishing down the field in the Nell Gwyn and the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket – Seattle Rock had far less on her plate at Newbury and duly opened her account with a two-length verdict under Ryan Moore.

“Relief is key,” said Kirk.

“You always worry when you’re taking a filly that’s been highly tried with decent form and a reasonable mark back into a maiden or a novice, so it’s nice the way she’s done it.

“It’s especially good that she’s done it over a mile because her form is obviously better over shorter.”

Seattle Rock stretches clear at Newbury
Seattle Rock stretches clear at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He added: “It will be interesting to see how the handicapper assesses the form. Ryan was reasonably complimentary about her, so we’ll sit down with Jeff (Smith, owner) and work out a plan from here on.

“She has nice black type already and it’s nice to get the maiden tag off her.”

Division two was a much closer run affair, with the William Haggas-trained Evident Beauty and Tom Marquand getting the better of fellow 5-2 joint-favourite Subtle Beauty by a neck.