STUBBS Art will bid to make it third time lucky when he seeks to overturn two Classic defeats by Henrythenavigator in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot today.
The David Elsworth trained colt has taken minor honours in third behind Aidan O’Brien’s charge and subsequent Derby hero New Approach in the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, but that has not put connections off a rematch.
“We’ve got it all to do to beat Henrythenavigator because he’s got his ground now,” said Jimmy Lindley, racing manager to owner Matthew Green.
“We would have liked a bit of rain. Our horse finds a bit more when it’s soft and I was hoping it would come up soft so Henry wouldn’t turn up, but he’s 16-1 and the bookies are putting horses in front of him in the market that he has beaten.
“He proved his run in the 2000 Guineas was no fluke because he held his form at the Curragh and in fact he got nearer the Derby winner there than he did at Newmarket.
“That was great form and the beauty of him is he’s a lovely, genuine horse, who runs his heart out and David Elsworth said he’s improved since then.
“He did a lovely bit of work on the July course at Newmarket. They let him do some work there last week and it was lovely ground. He pleased everybody and we’re looking for a big run tomorrow.”
Lindley, who won the race three times in his riding days, added: “We’ve got the draw – nine – so all the others are on his outside. With any luck we can drop in behind the pacemakers and everything will go our way and not theirs.”
Stubbs Art finished half a length ahead of fourth-placed Raven’s Pass at Newmarket, but the latter’s connections are also hopeful of reversing the form.
Raven’s Pass is owned under the banner of Stonerside Stable, run by Robert and Janice McNair in Kentucky, and trained by John Gosden.
Racing manager John Adger said: “I was very impressed by Henrythenavigator at Newmarket and not only there as he was even more impressive in the Irish Guineas.
“He is a very good horse and obviously he showed how good he was by beating New Approach so easily, as that one went on to win the Derby.
“But Raven’s Pass has run well this year and we’ve been proud of him.
“He’s definitely going to be a nice colt for us for the rest of the year and the long-term plan is that we’re hoping he might be a Breeders’ Cup Mile colt.”
The Henry Cecil-trained Twice Over, who defeated Raven’s Pass by a short-head in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April, is dropping back to a mile after finishing third in the Dante Stakes at York.
He had been prominent in the Derby betting for much of the winter but connections have now decided a mile is the best way to go with the Observatory colt.
That was the first time he had met with defeat on the Knavesmire and connections are still hoping he will turn into a top-class performer.
“He’s been pleasing Henry and he’s worked straightforwardly, so we’re hopeful of a decent run,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.
French 2000 Guineas winner Falco is a fascinating addition to the mix and Olivier Peslier is expecting a good ride from the Carlos Laffon-Parias-trained colt.
Peslier said: “Falco is a very tall, strong horse and has needed some time but his inside draw is a good help and he has a lot of early speed.
“My horse is a champion and it will be a big clash with Henrythenavigator, but now we will see who is best,” he told At The Races.
“Falco won very well last time and I think he has a good chance.”
Rio De La Plata, beaten three lengths in second spot by Falco at Longchamp, reverts to a mile after finishing seventh to New Approach at Epsom.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: “He’s in good form. He looks happy and fresh but really needs good or good to soft ground.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved