Godolphin stars Cloth Of Stars and Rare Rhythm will be bidding for G2 success in the Grand Prix de Chantilly, one of the supporting races on Prix du Jockey Club Day at Chantilly on Sunday.
Last year’s G1 Prix Ganay scorer Cloth Of Stars, trained by Andre Fabre, lines up over a mile and a half at Chantilly, having chased home Enable over the same course and distance in Europe’s top middle-distance contest at the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.
The five-year-old finished third to Hawkbill in the 12-furlong G1 Dubai Sheema Classic in March and steps back up in trip after filling the same position over an extended 10 furlongs in this year’s G1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp.
Rare Rhythm drops down in distance following two excellent efforts at Meydan in March that included an impressive win in the 14-furlong G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy and a staying-on third in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup over two miles.
The lightly-raced six-year-old son of Dubawi has won on five of his nine career appearances, including decisive victories on both of his starts last year – in a 14-furlong Listed handicap at York and the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot.
Cloth Of Stars and Rare Rhythm tackle five rivals in the Grand Prix de Chantilly headed by German G1 winner Dschingis Secret and last season’s Prix du Jockey Club runner-up Waldgeist.
Charlie Appleby said: “We feel that the drop back in trip is going to suit Rare Rhythm.
“He was very impressive when he won over a mile and six furlongs in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, but I’m not sure that he quite saw out the two miles in the Dubai Gold Cup.
“His homework has been good and it will be interesting to see how he gets on against some strong middle-distance opposition.”
With the Aidan O’Brien pair Nelson and Rostropovich defecting, a total of 12 runners are set to go to post for the 239th running of the world famous race, which is expected to be run on ‘softish’ ground at Epsom on Saturday.
Nine Derby winners have come from the 10 draw, including notables such as The Minstrel (1977), Generous (1991) and Galileo (2001).
Trainer Charlie Appleby has given an upbeat report about Masar, who he believes has the pedigree and mental toughness to cope with the frenzy and challenges of Derby Day on the Downs.
The son of Darley stallion New Approach, the 2008 Derby winner, comes to Epsom following an excellent third in the G1 2,000 Guineas on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile.
“He came out of the race well, and that Guineas form is solid. I still believe it to be the best ‘trial’ for the Derby this season, and of course, the winner Saxon Warrior is the one we all have to beat,” Appleby pointed out.
“But it’s been noted that Masar is much more mature mentally these days. The travel to America and Dubai has benefited him. He’s grown up a lot. I think he has the right mind to go to Epsom,” the trainer added.
There can be no underestimating the mental and physical stress involved for a young horse going to the Derby at Epsom, a unique track with its acute undulations and bizarre adverse camber.
“As we all know, it’s a big stage there and it can be a challenge to a lot of horses. But what I’ve seen in Masar of late is a colt who is much more grown up. He is taking all the preliminaries well,” Appleby said.
“If he conducts himself at Epsom as he did at Newmarket, it is going to be a big plus. On pedigree, he should stay, and he is now mentally where you would like a horse who is stepping up in trip to be. He’s very relaxed in his work.
“Hopefully, this will give William (Buick) every chance of settling him early and ensure he gets the trip. He’s a very well balanced horse, and he learnt plenty on those right bends at Del Mar (in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) last November,” he added.
Godolphin fans can look forward to a stronger, more mature Harry Angel on his reappearance in Wednesday’s G2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, according to the colt’s trainer Clive Cox.
As a four-year-old, the son of Dark Angel has developed in the mould of the classic older sprinter, and Cox cannot wait to unveil his champion speedster on Knavesmire.
“He’s in good form and I’m very pleased with him,” said Cox.
“He has strengthened up and is stronger, both mentally and physically, which is good because he is required to carry a G1 penalty for what he achieved last year.”
Under the race conditions, Harry Angel has been burdened with 9st 13lb, considerably more than rivals Brando and Tasleet, who are both set to carry 9st 8lb.
Some theorists argue that weight is not a factor for concern in sprint races.
But Cox strongly disagrees. “It matters, don’t worry — 5lb is 5lb. Also, five of them have already had a run this season,” he added.
Harry Angel proved himself the best six-furlong horse in the world last year, with brilliant performances to take Newmarket’s G1 July Cup and the G1 Haydock Sprint Cup.
“It was unbelievable what he did last year,” Cox said. “Taking on the older horses and beating them when only three was great. He should be a better horse this season. He’s in a good place at present.”
After York, Harry Angel is to be aimed at the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, followed by the chance to defend his sprinting crown in the G1 July Cup