Godolphin day two Royal Ascot contenders led by Jack Hobbs
Jack Hobbs, impressive winner of the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic in March, spearheads a 12-strong Godolphin team on the second day of Royal Ascot, Wednesday, June 21.
The 2015 Irish Derby scorer, trained by John Gosden and ridden by William Buick, drops back down to 10 furlongs for the G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, in which the five-year-old Halling horse is joined by last season’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Scottish (Charlie Appleby/James Doyle), who has not run since October 15.
A field of nine for the middle-distance highlight of the meeting also features Highland Reel, successful at G1 level in the UK, USA and Hong Kong, plus this season’s G1 Jebel Hatta victor Decorated Knight.
John Gosden reported: “Jack Hobbs is in good form and I am happy with him. It was always the plan to go to Royal Ascot after he won in Dubai, we had the choice of this race and the Hardwicke over a mile and a half later in the week.
“He will be running on ground quicker than he won on in Dubai but he has gone well on a fast surface before.”
Charlie Appleby commented: “Scottish had a minor setback after the Caulfield Cup but he made a good recovery and I have been very pleased with his Royal Ascot preparation.
"We know we have a bit to find on the ratings but a mile and a quarter on quick ground will suit him.
“He looks better this season and, if he runs as well as we think he can, he could run into a place.”
Five-year-old Shamardal mare Usherette (Andre Fabre/Mickael Barzalona), a close third on her latest outing in the G1 Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly, France, on May 28, aims for a second successive victory in the G2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes following a decisive win 12 months ago.
She is joined in the straight mile contest by the rapidly improving four-year-old Dubawi filly Laugh Aloud (John Gosden/James Doyle), who stormed to a five-length success in the G3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom Downs on June 3.
The 16 runners for the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes also includes last season’s G1 Coronation Stakes scorer Qemah and South African champion Smart Call.
Andre Fabre commented: “Usherette has improved with each run this year and has come on again for her run in the Prix d’Ispahan.
“She returns to Royal Ascot in great form and quick ground will not be an issue for her.”
John Gosden said: ““augh Aloud came out of Epsom in great nick. She is coming up against a very good French runner in Qemah and it looks a high-quality renewal of the race.
"We have been happy with our filly and the ground won’t be a problem for her.”
A trio of Godolphin three-year-olds for the 20-runner G3 Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs features the Saeed bin Suroor-trained pair of Dream Castle (Josephine Gordon) and Top Score (Olivier Peslier), who were fifth and seventh respectively in the G1 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in May.
Parfait (John Gosden/William Buick) makes a quick reappearance following a comprehensive seven-length victory in a Newmarket handicap over the same distance on June 10.
Saeed bin Suroor remarked: “Dream Castle is a nice horse, who ran well to finish fifth in the 2,000 Guineas.
“He has been working nicely and Josephine Gordon has been riding very well for our stable.
“The return to seven furlongs will suit and I am looking forward to another good run.
“Top Score has always worked well but keeps jumping slowly from the stalls in his races. He is in good form but we need to see him break well so that he can be ridden handier.”
John Gosden added: “Parfait won well in a Newmarket handicap earlier this month but I think that he might find this race slightly more competitive.”
G3 winner Bean Feasa (Jim Bolger/Kevin Manning) drops down to Listed level for the Sandringham Handicap for three-year-old fillies over the straight mile after a luckless fifth in the G1 Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh, Ireland, on May 28.
Really Special (Saeed bin Suroor/Oisin Murphy), successful in a Newmarket Listed contest last season, and Grecian Light (Charlie Appleby/William Buick), who has placed at G2 level, also run in the mile race for three-year-old fillies.
Jim Bolger commented: “I have been very pleased with Bean Feasa since she ran at the Curragh and I am hoping for a good performance.”
Saeed bin Suroor reported: “Really Special never shows a great deal in the morning but I hope that she can come alive at the races.”
Charlie Appleby said: “Grecian Light was very consistent as a two-year-old and I was pleased with her first run of the year at Saint-Cloud, when she was third in a Listed race (March 19).
“She came out of that well and we purposely haven’t run her since because we wanted to look after her handicap mark with this race in mind.
“This has been the target for a while and she has run well on quick ground in the past.”
Charlie Appleby saddles two runners in the day’s top handicap, the 30-runner Royal Hunt Cup over the straight mile, with recent Epsom Downs scorer G K Chesterton (William Buick) lining up alongside Blair House (Mickael Barzalona).
The trainer added: “It was a good performance at Epsom Downs from G K Chesterton, who has won his last two starts. If he can reproduce his last run, it will make him very competitive.
“He doesn’t have to make the running. We couldn’t see any pace beforehand on his last two runs, so we decided to go forward and keep things simple, but we should be guaranteed a strong pace this time.
“Blair House is making his seasonal return after being gelded and has a fair bit to find with some of the others. A bit of cut in the ground would have been helpful but he has crept in at the bottom, so we have decided to roll the dice and see what happens.”