John of Gaunt challenge for Dutch Connection & D’bai
Dutch Connection and D’bai both return to seven furlongs for the G3 John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock Park, UK, on Saturday, 9 June.
Six-year-old Dutch Connection (Charlie Hills/James Doyle) drops back down in distance following an excellent run over a mile on his seasonal return in the G1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on 19 May, when he ran on in the closing stages to finish fourth of the 14 runners.
All five of his victories have been over seven furlongs, headed by an impressive display in the G2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in July, 2016.
D’Bai (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) moves up in trip after staying on to take second, beaten three-quarters of a length by dual G1-winning sprinter The Tin Man, in a Windsor Listed race over six furlongs on 21 May.
The four-year-old son of Dubawi readily won a seven-furlong turf handicap at Meydan, UAE, on his first start of 2018 in January and finished fourth to Jungle Cat over the same course and distance in the G2 Al Fahidi Fort the following month.
Charlie Hills commented: “Dutch Connection ran a blinder on his first start of the year in the Lockinge Stakes and we have been thinking about going for this race ever since.
“He has been fine since that run and should have a decent chance, providing the ground stays on the fast side.
“He travelled really well at Newbury, but there has always been a question mark over whether he truly stays the mile, so dropping him back to seven furlongs makes sense.”
Charlie Appleby said: “D’bai is stepping back up to seven furlongs following a very pleasing start to his European campaign at Windsor.
“He broke the track record over this distance at Meydan on his first appearance of the year and things didn’t quite pan out for him in the Al Fahidi Fort.
“Conditions at Haydock should suit him and he should be very competitive.”
Dutch Connection is drawn in eight, while D’bai will emerge from stall three. A field of eight for the John of Gaunt Stakes also includes Tabarrak, who took a Listed race over the same course and distance in May, and Leicester Listed winner Emmaus.