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All roads lead to Churchill Downs for unbeaten Essential Quality


Essential Quality displayed the credentials that saw him crowned champion two-year-old with a battling success in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes, securing his place in next month’s Kentucky Derby in the process.

The homebred colt stretched his winning streak to five when edging out Highly Motivated in a thrilling finish to the Keeneland highlight on Saturday, 3 April. He will now bid to join a select group of nine horses who have successfully defended unbeaten records in the Run for the Roses on Saturday, 1 May.

Essential Quality is set to be a 12th Kentucky Derby runner for Godolphin, with the 2015 fourth Frosted having fared best in the royal blue silks, and remarkably a first in the race for Eclipse Award-winning trainer and Louisville native Brad Cox.

Godolphin’s superb start to the year in North America has already yielded six Graded-race wins and prize money in excess of $2.5 million, together with a first leading owner title at Fair Grounds.

In the UK, Godolphin took champion owner honours on the All-Weather for a seventh consecutive season following the conclusion of the season on Friday, 2 April.

Keeneland’s Spring Meet continues this week, with last season’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup runner-up Micheline on course to run in the G1 Jenny Wiley Stakes on Saturday, 10 April.

The first fixture of Randwick’s Championships gets underway on the same day in Australia. Avilius features among the Godolphin contenders for the G1 Doncaster Mile, while Golden Slipper runner-up Anamoe could run in the G1 Sires’ Produce Stakes on the same card.

On the European scene, France hosts some important early Classic trials this week. Debut winner Philomene and improving colt Pimento will be among those three-year-olds hoping to impress over the coming days.