Walker to raise his sights for Ascot victor Dreamloper

Ed Walker will select from an array of Group One and Two targets for Dreamloper after the talented filly put her career back on track at Ascot.

Walker was hugely disappointed and at a loss to explain Dreamloper’s lacklustre performance when she could manage only 10th of 18 as favourite in Royal Ascot’s Kensington Palace Stakes.

But she was back to winning form with a vengeance on her return to the Berkshire track for last month’s Valiant Stakes – and the Lambourn trainer is therefore encouraged to factor in top-level assignments such as the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown and Newmarket’s Sun Chariot later in the season.

He has even contemplated a possible trans-Atlantic trip to Saratoga this month – although at present, that challenge for this month’s Grade Two Ballston Spa Stakes is on the back-burner.

Walker said: “I left (Royal) Ascot so gutted and disappointed.

“I (then) did the slightly unorthodox thing of running badly in a handicap and sticking her in a Group race (next).

“But she’s a well-bred filly, and we’d always agreed that the plan was always to try to win the Kensington Palace and then go and find black type after Ascot.

“So just because she threw in the first real dud of her career, I still thought it was worth sticking to the plan.”

Dreamloper belatedly proved her trainer right.

He added: “In her run before Royal Ascot, she and (Sir Michael Stoute’s Valiant Stakes runner-up) Lights On were in a head-bobbing finish which we came out the wrong side of – and then she (Lights On) went and won a Listed race by 10 lengths at Pontefract.

“That gave me the confidence that she is a Stakes filly. So it paid off in spades, which is great.

“Everything from here is a bonus – we’ll aim for Group Twos and Group Ones.

“I’ve entered her up, against colts as well. We actually supplemented her for the Matron – so the Matron, Sun Chariot, and I’m toying with taking her to Saratoga for the Ballston Spa (on August 28).

“I think we’re probably not going to do that, but we’re weighing up our options really. I think the only reason we wouldn’t go to the Ballston Spa is it might just hinder some of her opportunities here, in Ireland and France.

“So we will probably keep her over here for now, and see.”

Dreamloper’s near five-length Group Three win at Ascot came over a mile, but Walker believes she may be equally adept at that distance or a furlong shorter.

He said: “She’s a very good filly. She’s been quite hard to train – she’s always been a bit over-enthusiastic.

Great Ambassador may be set for a rise in class after his fine Stewards' Cup run
Great Ambassador may be set for a rise in class after his fine Stewards’ Cup run (John Walton/PA)

“The girl who rides her every day, Molly Stratton, has done a magnificent job just switching her off – and it’s all come good.

“Where we go from here, I’m not entirely sure (yet). But we’ll hunt black type, with obviously the eye on the big prize of going for some Group One form.

“She’s got bags of speed. They didn’t go fast at Ascot, in the Valiant, and started quickening it up from four out.

“She hit the line really well and won well, but I don’t think it was a massive stamina test. I think it probably really suited her good turn of foot, so I would happily come back to seven.”

He was also enthused by Great Ambassador’s efforts as a close third in Saturday’s Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood – and he too may soon be set for a rise in class.

“I was thrilled and gutted at the same time with Goodwood,” said Walker, who believes Great Ambassador could easily have bagged the famous handicap prize with better fortune.

He added: “If he’s drawn the other side he probably would have won, and he probably would have won if he hadn’t lugged across the track looking for some company.

“It’s gutting, because I think we’ve been second, third and fourth in the race now in recent years. It’s a lovely race to win, and I’ll keep trying.”

The next stop for improving four-year-old Great Ambassador, meanwhile, may or may not be in handicap company – and could involve a further drop in trip.

“Maybe a Portland (at Doncaster next month), five and a half (furlongs),” said Walker.

“It’s amazing how much speed this horse has – (jockey) Will (Buick) said you could bring him back to five.

“I think he’ll end up being a Pattern book horse before the end of the year.

“We’ll see whether we keep trying to win these sprint handicaps, that are nearly impossible to win, or we go up (in class).

“We’ve had a couple of goes (in big handicaps) now. He’s a very good horse.”

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