Mark Johnston’s youngster claimed his fourth victory from six starts in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and steps up to Group One level for the first time this weekend.
The Middleham maestro also has the option of recent Winkfield Stakes winner Sixth Sense, with David Brown’s Tribesman, Gay Kelleway’s Zebstar and the William Haggas-trained Raucous completing a five-strong British contingent.
Aidan O’Brien has saddled a staggering 13 previous winners of one of Ireland’s most prestigious juvenile prizes, with Johannesburg (2001), George Washington (2005) and Holy Roman Emperor (2006) among those on the role of honour.
The Fethard-based trainer is responsible for three of the 10 horses entered for this year’s renewal, with Coventry runner-up Air Force Blue joined by stable companions Washington DC, winner of the Windsor Castle Stakes at the Royal meeting, and Railway Stakes scorer Painted Cliffs.
Jessica Harrington’s Railway second Rockaway Valley and the only filly in the race, Most Beautiful from David Wachman’s yard, complete the list.
- David O’Meara is favouring a trip to Ireland for the Coolmore Mastercraftsman Matron Stakes on September 12 for this season’s revelation, Amazing Maria.
Having seemingly lost her way with Ed Dunlop after showing smart form at two, she would be bidding for a Group One hat-trick at Leopardstown after wins in the Falmouth and Prix Rothschild to supplement her Royal Ascot success.
“She’s obviously a very classy filly and she did that (Rothschild win) as easy as any of her previous races,” O’Meara said.
“We were delighted as we were worried about having to give weight to the unbeaten three-year-old, Ervedya, but she picked her up nicely and won well.
“I’d say the Jacques le Marois is unlikely as it’s only two weeks away, so we’ll probably wait for the Matron but I’ll speak to Robert (Ogden, owner).
“There’s the Sun Chariot at Newmarket which will be on her agenda and also America at the end of the season.
“There’s the (Breeders’ Cup) Filly & Mares in America over a mile (and) one (furlong) and a bit. Olivier Peslier seems to think she’ll stay it.”
- Jim Bolger is unsure whether Round Two will be seen again this season after suffering an injury since his disappointing run at Royal Ascot.
The Teofilo colt was sent off favourite for the Coventry Stakes after winning his first two starts, but trailed home a well-beaten seventh behind Mark Johnston’s Buratino.
“Round Two has picked up an injury and will not be running for a while,” said Bolger.
“He was very dull after Ascot for about three weeks and he got injured after that.
“We will see how he is next month before deciding if he will run again this season.”
- The Prix Morny at Deauville remains the likely next port of call for Shalaa following his stunning display at Goodwood last week.
The John Gosden-trained colt finished last of eight on his Newbury debut in mid-May, but has since completed a hat-trick of victories and looked every inch a top-class juvenile when landing the Richmond Stakes on the Sussex Downs in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
Shalaa heads a formidable team of two-year-olds for leading owners Al Shaqab Racing, with Hugo Palmer’s Vintage Stakes winner Galileo Gold and the Richard Hannon-trained Prix Robert Papin hero Gutaifan also in the mix for the some of the big prizes later in the year.
Al Shaqab’s racing manager, Harry Herbert, said: “He (Shalaa) is special, isn’t he? He’s taken a while and as everyone knows his first run at Newbury was an absolute shocker.
“John Gosden was very happy with him before that race, he’d worked brilliantly at home, but he just didn’t engage.
“He’ll go to France – he’s a (Prix) Morny horse through and through, so long as the ground’s not horrible and John Gosden is happy with him.
- Al Kazeem has been retired “in the best interest of the horse”, trainer Roger Charlton has confirmed.
The popular seven-year-old has been struggling with an injury, with time now called on the decorated career of the four-times Group One scorer.
John Deer, Al Kazeem’s owner, has taken the decision to retire his superstar, due to a suspensory branch injury,“ the Beckhampton handler told www.rogercharlton.com.
“I also believe that this is in the best interest of the horse. Al Kazeem has been a pleasure to train from start to finish and he has had a remarkable career. He injured himself during his second win of the Group Tattersalls Gold Cup this year after returning from stud.
“He had a month off after that race but is now cantering and is sound.
“He is so honest and never gives up, so much so, that John and I are worried that he may injure himself further in our attempt to bring him back for the Champion Stakes at Ascot.”