A decision on which race last year’s Derby winner Masar will run in at Royal Ascot will be made in the next 48 hours.
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby was happy with him in a routine gallop on Wednesday, after a racecourse spin at Newmarket on Saturday – but whether he lines up over 10 furlongs in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes or the Hardwicke over two furlongs further has still not been finalised.
Appleby said: “I was delighted with the way he came out of Saturday. He did a routine bit of work, but rain stopped play in allowing us to get over the road on to the Limekilns. I couldn’t have been happier with his work.
“In regards to whether he runs in the Prince of Wales’s or Hardwicke, a decision will be made in the next 48 hours. I don’t want to put it further back, but there plenty of calculations that need to be made, especially with the way the ground is with the rain.
“You would be hoping for decent ground, but the forecast has changed over the last couple of days and that has to be taken into consideration. I will speak to Sheikh Mohammed and we will make what we think is the right call for the horse for his start at Ascot.”
He added: “Dropping back to 10 furlongs doesn’t worry me, as I said on Saturday, as he has won the Craven and we were going to come back to 10 furlongs after the Derby, when unfortunately he met with a setback when favourite for the Eclipse.
“We have just got to make sure we make the right decision for his first start after a long lay-off.”
One thing Appleby did confirm was that if Masar runs in the Prince of Wales’s William Haggas will need a new jockey for Sea Of Class, with James Doyle to be retained by Godolphin.
“Wherever Masar runs James Doyle will ride, whether that is the Prince of Wales’s or the Hardwicke,” said Appleby.
“James will be riding all the first-choice horses and star performers like Masar, Cross Counter and Blue Point and he is looking forward to the rides on them.
“Kerrin McEvoy will be coming over to pick up the second mounts. We are delighted to have him on board, as we have had a good association through the years. Hopefully he will stay over until the July meeting at Newmarket.”
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Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby favours the Arlington Million as a possible next target for Old Persian instead of trying to secure back-to-back victories at Royal Ascot.
The Newmarket trainer may aim Old Persian at the Grade One prize in Illinois on August 10 rather than bidding to follow up last year’s King Edward VII Stakes victory in either the Prince Of Wales’s or Hardwicke Stakes.
After claiming his first top-level success in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March on his penultimate start, the Dubawi colt could finish only seventh of nine in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.
Appleby said: “He was entitled to come forward for his run in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, but he did disappoint us the way he shut down in the last furlong.
“He came back out of the race OK – but I just think a more conventional track will suit him, so we might look at the Arlington Million and drop him back to a mile and a quarter on that flat track there.
“I know he has won around Ascot – and because he was a winner at the meeting last year, you can’t completely rule it out, but I think we will end up missing Ascot.
“We were just disappointed with that last run at Epsom, and it was not the sort of run you want to go into a championship meeting like Ascot.”
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Godolphin‘s Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter is on course to clash with Stradivarius in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
The Charlie Appleby-trained four-year-old beat Hughie Morrison’s Marmelo in a famous finish to the ‘race that stops a nation’ last November, and followed up in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March.
Appleby supervised his Teofilo gelding in work on Saturday morning, and said: “I was pleased with that. His preparation has gone well, and the plan is to head to the Ascot Gold Cup.
“It’s going to be a step up in trip, but on the evidence of what we saw on his last start there is no reason why it shouldn’t suit – and potentially see a bit more improvement to come.”
The victory at Meydan means Cross Counter is eligible to bid for the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million – a bonus claimed last year by Stradivarius.
After winning one of eight qualifying races, the huge pot can be secured if a horse lands the Gold Cup at Ascot, the Goodwood Cup and finally the Lonsdale Cup at York.
Appleby said: “If he sees it (trip) out, then the focus will be those Cup races – at Goodwood, then on to York. If he doesn’t, then we could potentially look at having another crack at the Melbourne Cup.
“They all had a break after World Cup Night, and we have been building him up since he arrived back in the UK. I’m confident going straight to Ascot with him, because we saw what he can do off a long lay-off in Dubai in the Gold Cup there on his first start back.
“We felt we left him a little bit short that night, and his class prevailed in the end. He is taking on proper staying horses now, but the step up in trip should seek out a bit more improvement.”
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