Winker Watson set for Guineas test

Winker Watson will have his unbeaten juvenile status tested for the first time in the Stan James 2000 Guineas on May 3 after Peter Chapple-Hyam announced the colt will head to Newmarket without a prep race.

Winker Watson will have his unbeaten juvenile status tested for the first time in the Stan James 2000 Guineas on May 3 after Peter Chapple-Hyam announced the colt will head to Newmarket without a prep race.

The Classic contender has not been seen since notching his third win of the campaign in last summer’s July Stakes and is a 12-1 chance for the Guineas with William Hill.

His Derby-winning trainer said: “Winker is in great form and will go straight to the Guineas, so we can keep the dream alive!

“I am always changing my mind so he could possibly go to the Craven but at this stage he will go straight to the Guineas and have a few gallops at the racecourse before then.

“He would have to carry a penalty in the Craven and I am not a fan of the Greenham as it often turns into a sprint.

“He has done a lot of growing since last year and would be a hand bigger now.”

Explaining Winker Watson’s absence from the course towards the end of last season, Chapple-Hyam continued: “I wasn’t happy with his action so we X-rayed his knee and he had a shadow on it, which meant something might happen so I stopped with him.

“We have X-rayed it twice recently and it is all fine now.

“I would have loved to run him in the Middle Park and Dewhurst last year as I think the Middle Park was there for the taking.

“I think this will be a very good year, though, as there were some very good two-year-olds last season, and we’ll have to see if he is good enough.

“On breeding he is not certain to stay a mile but I believe he has a laid-back attitude and that he will stay.”

The one member of his near 90-strong squad who has the trainer excited is Cape Amber – a three-year-old who won her sole start as a juvenile by three lengths, and is 25-1 with William Hill for the Guineas.

“She is probably my best three-year-old and is likely to go straight for the 1000 Guineas,” said Chapple-Hyam.

“She is by Cape Cross out of a Rainbow Quest mare and I would love to think she could be an Oaks filly, but I am not sure she will get the mile-and-a-half trip.”

Also flying the flag for his St Gatien stables this season will be last year’s Jersey Stakes and Betfair Cup winner Tariq, who faces a tough start to the season at Newbury.

“He picked up an allergy to something this morning but is very well apart from that and will go straight to the Lockinge,” said the trainer.

“I think he will stay a mile and I hope to go on to the Queen Anne after the Lockinge, although Ramonti might turn up there and he will be a hard horse to beat.”

He added: “Declaration Of War was beaten by Rio De La Plata in France in the autumn and ended up higher rated than Winker Watson.

“He would need to improve to be up there with the top boys but we’ll look at the Craven with him. If he is good enough, the French Derby would be an option.”

Chapple-Hyam is also planning a European campaign for Al Quasi who “should get a mile” while the Highclere Thoroughbred-owned Fireside will start off in a handicap at Newbury or Newmarket.

However, he is well-regarded by Chapple-Hyam, and he added: “If he is flying then you might just see him in the Greenham.”

Helping Chapple-Hyam along the way will be Alan Munro, who is back in action after an enforced layoff due to a convulsion he suffered on a flight to France in August 2006.

Chapple-Hyam added: “Alan was here riding work this morning and it is great to have him back.

“Jimmy Fortune will keep the ride on Tariq as he won on him last year but Alan will ride almost everything I can get my hands on.”

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