Godolphin’s obsession with the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes yielded handsome dividends as Belardo seized the day at Newbury on Saturday.
Sheikh Mohammed’s team threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Group One by declaring four runners.
It was a move which paid off quite spectacularly as the Roger Varian-trained Belardo, under Andrea Atzeni, provided the men in blue with a seventh success in the grand old race. It was some renewal, too, as the winning colt manfully held off Euro Charline by a length, with Irish challenger Endless Drama just a neck away in third.
Varian said: “To win a race like this is why connections kept him in training, so I’m delighted for Sheikh Mohammed and his Godolphin operation.
“They kept patience with the trainer and they’ve been rewarded. He’ll certainly be trained for Royal Ascot [Queen Anne] — that’s where we’d like to be.”
Richard Hannon is sure as to Mehmas’s standing in the pecking order in his current crop of two-year-olds after he booked his Royal Ascot with victory in the Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes.
Hannon said: “I’d say he’s at the top of it right now. He goes for the Coventry Stakes now.”
The Wiltshire handler secured a significant double on the card as Log Out Island dazzled from the front in the Toronado Carnarvon Stakes.
Hannon said: “Whether he can hold it together at Ascot in the Commonwealth Cup I don’t know, but he was pretty impressive there.”
Astronereus is likely to be aimed at the Goodwood Cup after his win in the Al Rayyan Stakes, while the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot beckons for We Are Ninety, who won the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes.
The latter’s trainer Hugo Palmer said: “Jim Crowley said she will stay further and we’ll look to the Ribblesdale Stakes now as there’s a nice gap.”
Roger Charlton, meanwhile, nominated the Tercentenary Stakes as a possible next staging post for Imperial Aviator, who was much too good for the rest of them in the Al Zubarah London Gold Cup.
It is a race Charlton has won with stars such as Time Test and Al Kazeem. He said: “Every time this horse has run he has improved. As it turned out his Leicester form was given a needed boost with Ulysses winning here on Friday. Let’s hope he keeps progressing.”
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