By Kitten’s Joy out of a Dynaformer mare, he won his maiden at the first time of asking, scoring at Kempton at the backend of last season. He then made his return at Epsom in late April, and finished a close second (Hartnell finished fifth) behind a horse, Our Channel, who was deemed worthy of a place in the Epsom Derby.
He then went to the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood and ran a race full of promise to take second place, beaten just a neck by Obversational. Early in the straight he looked set for a modest fourth-place finish but the further they went, the better he got, and his strong late charge was just denied.
That was on soft ground, which may not have suited the colt, but stamina was clearly his strongest suit and the extra five furlongs of this race should bring out the best in him.
The Goodwood race is one John Gosden has won three times and two of those horses went on to run in the Doncaster St Leger, Masked Marvel winning the classic in 2011, and Michelangelo finishing third in 2012.
That gives a fair idea of the quality of animal the trainer aims at the race, and while Marzocco doesn’t hold an entry in the Leger, he looks a potentially smart stayer in the making, possibly even a Cup horse for next season.
The Queen’s Vase is something of a specialist race for trainers, with the late Henry Cecil leading the way with eight victories, while Mark Johnston won it six times in the last 13 runnings, Michael Stoute four times since 1998 and Aidan O’Brien three times since 2007.
Johnston is represented by Hartnell, who has something to find with Marzocco on Epsom form, while O’Brien saddles Century, who has classy form but didn’t look the most straightforward of rides when fourth behind stable companion Kingfisher in the Chester Vase. He’s out of a Lujain mare, who won a Group 3 as a two-year-old, and stamina must be a considerable concern.
Min Alemart might provide the greatest danger. He was very green when a beaten favourite behind Wrangler on his second start, but showed much-improved form when trouncing inferior rivals over a mile and a half on soft ground at Haydock last month.
The bare form of that effort leaves him with something to find with Marzocco, but he has great potential for improvement. Quicker ground shouldn’t be a concern, and he represents each-way value at around 7-1.
Lightning Thunder can gain reward for her consistency by taking the featured Coronation Stakes for trainer Olly Stevens. A smart two-year-old, she made her return in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas and was probably a touch unlucky in running behind Miss France, who she had finished second to in the Oh So Sharp Stakes last year.
She then came to the Curragh for the Irish 1000 Guineas and ran another brilliant race, on totally different conditions. Again, she found one too good on the day, but gave everything in defeat.
The return to faster conditions should suit this afternoon and if she can find some cover for much of the trip, she will be very hard to keep of the frame. In a decent but not brilliant renewal of the race, she looks a solid bet at 4-1.