44 runners set to start for Godolphin as Royal Ascot opens

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William Buick and Hawkbill after winning the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic during the Dubai World Cup Day at Meydan Racecourse in March

The pride of Dubai, Godolphin, have a stunning 44 runners in action at Royal Ascot over the next five days including Blue Point, Hawkbill and Wootton.

We take a look at some of their top prospects at the blue ribbon event where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are on hand to present the winners of the St James Palace Stakes.

HAWKBILL 

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby will fit blinkers for the first time to seasoned international campaigner Hawkbill in Wednesday’s G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

The dual G1 winner has been regularly running over a mile and a half of late, but Appleby believes the drop back in trip — with the addition of the headgear — will see the son of Kitten’s Joy in a good light.

“Some forget that he won the G1 Eclipse over a mile and a quarter as a three-year-old,” the trainer pointed out.

“He’s a very reliable horse who has been a great campaigner for Godolphin. He has won 10 of his 21 starts and more than £3-million in prizemoney.

“He is worthy of his place in this high-class field, and dropping back in distance, the blinkers could just give him added focus,” he added.

Appleby suggested it was best to forget Hawkbill’s last start fifth in the G1 Coronation Cup.

A field of seven are to face the starter, with the John Gosden-trained Cracksman attempting to register his eighth win from 10 starts.

PROMISING RUN

Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor has called on French champion Christophe Soumillon to partner Promising Run, one of two runners for the trainer in Wednesday’s G2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Saeed and Soumillon memorably combined for a glorious victory with Thunder Snow in the G1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan on Saturday, 31 March.

Promising Run won two G2 races in Dubai during the winter and finished a respectable fifth in the G1 Dubai Turf 81 days ago. She has not raced since.

Saeed said: “She won her first two starts in Dubai before running well against the colts in the G1 Jebel Hatta and the G1 Dubai Turf.

“She always runs well fresh and we have given her a break in preparation for this race. I have been pleased with her work recently. She looks to be in good condition and we are hoping for a good result,” he added.

Saeed also sends out Arabian Hope, who also comes into the race fresh. She has not run for 256 days.

“Arabian Hope looks better physically compared to last year and has been going well at home. This is the right distance for her and I am hoping for a nice run,” the trainer added.

Arabian Hope, a winner in Turkey last year, is to be ridden by Oisin Murphy.

Hydrangea and Aljazzi as the major talking horses in this competitive race, though Wilamina won well at Epsom and must also go well.

BLUE POINT

Godolphin sprinter Blue Point will be attempting to put two disappointments in the first half of the year behind him when he contests a vintage running of the G1 King’s Stand Stakes on the first day of Royal Ascot.

The four-year-old was strongly fancied by trainer Charlie Appleby to win the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night, Saturday, 31 March, only to be withdrawn at the start on veterinary advice.

Blue Point then travelled to Hong Kong, where he finished last of nine in a G1 sprint won by local star Ivictory at Sha Tin on Sunday, 29 April.

The Shamardal colt had tried to take on Hong Kong’s best at their own specialist game, in their own back yard.

“Hong Kong was disappointing for him,” Appleby said. “And he then had a bad trip back, with the plane hitting turbulence, which was unsettling,” he added.

“But, he had a nice break when he got back and he has recovered well. I feel he’s turned the corner, and he will appreciate both the step back in trip to five furlongs, and the return to Ascot,” the trainer pointed out.

This is a vintage running of the King’s Stand, with last year’s winner Lady Aurelia defending her crown and the lightning fast Battaash mounting a strong challenge.

Tactics will play a part, despite this being a five-furlong dash. With speed on up front all the way, a sprinter who can tuck in behind might be seen to advantage.

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Godolphin's Epsom Derby hero Masar handed Eclipse aim at Sandown

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Epsom Derby hero Masar will drop back in distance for next month’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown rather than bid for a Classic double in the Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Trainer Charlie Appleby has confirmed the Godolphin colt will drop back to 10 furlongs for the Group One on July 7, with the son of New Approach already having won at the Esher track as a juvenile.

He will, however, need to be supplemented for the Sandown race.

“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and I discussed Masar’s programme at length and have reached the conclusion that the Eclipse will suit him best,” Appleby said.

“We will leave him in the Irish Derby, just to keep all options open. But the intention is to run in the Eclipse.

“Masar has won at Sandown (the Solario Stakes), showing that he acts well on the track and dropping back in trip will be no problem – he won the Craven Stakes and finished third in the 2000 Guineas. He’s got plenty of speed.”

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Godolphin's D’bai strikes in G3 John of Gaunt Stakes

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D’bai gained a first G3 success with a brave display in the John of Gaunt Stakes over seven furlongs at Haydock Park, UK on Saturday.

The four-year-old son of Dubawi, runner-up in the six-furlong Listed Leisure Stakes on his European return at Windsor on 21 May, was settled in fourth of the seven runners early on by William Buick.

D’bai, trained by Charlie Appleby, quickened smartly to take the lead entering the final furlong and gamely saw off the late challenges of Larchmont Lad and Tabarrak to prevail by a head in 1m 28.24s on good to firm ground.

Godolphin’s other runner Dutch Connection (Charlie Hills/James Doyle) kept on to come home a clear fourth.

Charlie Appleby said: “D’bai travelled very well today and really put his head down when he had to.

“He holds an entry in the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6f, 23 June) at Royal Ascot and we will keep the race on our radar, but he could also head for the G2 Lennox Stakes (7f, 31 July) at Goodwood.

“D’bai is a G3 winner over seven furlongs now, so it seems logical to keep him over the same distance, but the way he travels in his races suggests that a fast-run six furlongs could be right up his street.

“We will see how he comes out of the race and talk things over but I am delighted that he has won a G3 race.”

William Buick added: “D’bai is a very talented horse. He had a good winter in Dubai, winning a seven-furlong handicap, and things just didn’t go right for him in the G2 Al Fahidi Fort out there.

“Charlie used the race at Windsor as a prep for this and it has worked out nicely. He travelled really well throughout the race – I would have liked to have another horse to follow and been able to wait a little longer, but he stuck on well.”

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