RIP VAN WINKLE delighted his connections in his latest workout ahead of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
The Galileo colt has always been held in the highest regard by the Ballydoyle team and despite a late scare, he finally began to live up to expectations with a devastating display in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien admits things have not gone entirely to plan again since then, but reports his charge to be in fine form ahead of his weekend engagement.
The powerful operation also left in dual Group One winner Mastercraftsman at the latest entry stage but he looks unlikely to take his chance should his better fancied stablemate arrive at Ascot in one piece.
“Rip Van Winkle and Mastercraftsman are both well, both cantered this morning and everything went well,” said O’Brien.
“After his run at Sandown in the Eclipse, we were very convinced that Rip Van Winkle was a miler and the plan then was to go for the Sussex.
“We saw what happened that day and afterwards he was quite sore so it was touch and go for a long time, but we’ve been happy with him for the last couple of weeks.
“He’s been progressing well and it’s been so far so good with him really.
“He cantered today and Johnny (Murtagh) rode him and he seemed happy with him.
“Obviously we were delighted with him at Goodwood, but we felt there was more to come and he’s just one of those special horses.
“The reason we’re not running both Rip Van Winkle and Mastercraftsman on Saturday is because it’s a while since ’Rip’ ran and it’s not very long since Mastercraftsman ran.
“I would say the two of them are top milers, but they are different types of horses in that one is more relaxed and the other is more exuberant.”
Delegator is also said to be progressing well as he goes in search of a first Group One success having won the Celebration Mile on his debut for Godolphin.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: “He worked yesterday over six furlongs and he worked very well so I’m happy with him.
“He seems in very good form and is now ready for the race on Saturday.
“I don’t want to say he has improved since Goodwood, but he is definitely very healthy and in very good condition at the moment.
“We are looking for him to win a Group One in England as that would be fantastic and there will be some very nice horses running on Saturday.
“It is going to be tough but our horse is very solid, very honest and he always tries his best, so we are looking forward to a good run from him.”
Meanwhile, Aidan O’Brien is planning a two-pronged assault on next month’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes with both Cape Blanco and Steinbeck pencilled in for the Newmarket Group One event.
Cape Blanco stretched his unbeaten record to three with a game victory in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh on his latest outing, while the highly touted Steinbeck has been off the track since making a winning debut at Naas back in May.
“We always thought Cape Blanco was a very good horse and he is a beautifully actioned horse as he hardly lifts his legs off the ground at all,” said O’Brien.
“There is no doubt real fast ground is where he is going to be at his best and we just took a chance on him in the Futurity.
“He won and had loads left but he laboured badly in the ground and we said we would never do that to him again. We’ve been very happy with him since and we think he is going to be a very exciting horse.
“Steinbeck has done all of his work really well and hasn’t disappointed us in any of it yet.”
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