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Classic reversals no barrier to greatness


Master Of The Seas and Essential Quality were denied the rub of the green in the 2,000 Guineas and Kentucky Derby over the weekend, but both colts emerged from the early Classics having lost little in defeat.

At Newmarket, Master Of The Seas missed out on a bob of the heads to Poetic Flare in the 2,000 Guineas, with Naval Crown taking fourth and One Ruler coming home sixth.

Suffering a loss in the first Classic of the UK season does not impede a colt from subsequent high standing. New Approach and Masar went on to win the Derby after placing at Newmarket, while Dubawi, sire of all three of Saturday’s runners, finished fifth before establishing himself as a brilliant miler and the most successful British stallion in Pattern history.

A trip to Royal Ascot now beckons for Master Of The Seas and Naval Crown. One Ruler could bid to emulate New Approach and Masar, although an important week of Derby trials at Chester and Lingfield Park is expected to further refine the pecking order for Epsom Downs

“All three horses have come out of the race well,” said Charlie Appleby, who trains all three horses. “We were delighted with Master Of The Seas and can take a lot of positives out of the run. We know that we have a good miler on our hands and he will head straight for the St James’s Palace Stakes.

“Naval Crown ran a great race as well and he is probably going to drop back to seven furlongs for the Jersey Stakes at the same meeting, while One Ruler looks as though he will appreciate stepping up in trip.”

Champion juvenile Essential Quality met with a first career defeat in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs as he endured a rough start and a wide trip to come home a close fourth – a position also occupied by Medaglia d’Oro and Frosted in previous years.

“I always say it’s 85 per cent horse, five per cent jockey, five per cent trainer and five per cent racing luck,” said trainer Brad Cox. “The bottom line is that we didn’t have the racing luck. I thought Essential Quality was compromised at the start and then was in chase mode pretty much the whole way – he couldn’t get comfortable, take his deep breath where he could gather himself up, and then come with a strong finish. He did stay on extremely well to and to only be beaten a length tells you how good he is.”

Essential Quality’s wellbeing over the coming days will dictate whether he heads to Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes, but his trainer is already looking forward to seeing his colt stretch out in trip for next month’s Belmont Stakes.

This season’s UAE Derby hero Rebel’s Romance has already arrived in New York to prepare for the Belmont Stakes. His trainer Charlie Appleby has also sent out three further horses to run at the same meeting, with Dubai World Cup Carnival winners Althiqa and Summer Romance pencilled in for the G1 Just A Game Stakes and Desert Peace also due to run.

Maxfield showcased his ability to bounce back from a first defeat with a convincing win in the G2 Alysheba Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. He looks set to take in some top races over the summer, with the Stephen Foster Stakes back at Churchill Downs next month among his targets.