Spurred by Epsom Derby win, Godolphin ready to mount more title challenges at Royal Ascot
Opening day’s action in six-race card includes three Group 1 prizes in which Dubai racing operation have three entries each under different trainer
Buoyed by their first Epsom Derby triumph this month, Godolphin are in search of more trophies - this time when the five-day Royal Ascot gets under way on Tuesday.
Godolphin's Masar, ridden by William Buick, raced behind five horses in the June 2 race before unleashing a run from the outside to win by a length-and-a-half.
Now the Dubai-based racing operation have set sight on the Ascot races.
The opening day’s action in the six-race card includes three Group 1 prizes – the Queen Anne Stakes, King’s Stand Stakes and St James’s Palace Stakes – in which Godolphin have three entries each under a different trainer.
First up in the Queen Ann Stakes is Saeed bin Suroor’s Benbatl, winner of the Group 1 Dubai Turf on the Dubai World Cup night in March.
“Benbatl beat some very good horses in the Dubai Turf. We gave him a break after that, but he is back now and ready to go again,” Bin Suroor, who is chasing an eighth Queen Ann Stakes trophy, told the Godolphin website.
“This will be another very tough race for him, as he is taking on some top milers. But he has been working well and I have been happy with his preparation."
Benbatl was fifth at the Epsom Derby before going on to win the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot last year.
The son of Dubawi was then brought to Dubai in the winter where he won three of his four races, with the campaign culminating in a triumph at the Dubai Turf.
Bin Suroor’s runner is expected to be challenged by Aidan O’Brien’s Rhododendron, winner of the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, and the runner-up Lightning Spear.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Blue Point carries the hopes of the Royal Blue silks in the King’s Stand.
The four-year-old son of Shamardal returns to action on the back of two disappointing efforts in Dubai and Hong Kong.
He went down to Ertijaal in the Group 2 Meydan Sprint and was withdrawn from the Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night on veterinary advice.
Blue Point finished last of nine in a Group 1 sprint won by local star Ivictory at Sha Tin on April 29.
“Hong Kong was disappointing for him,” Appleby said. “And he then had a bad trip back, with the plane hitting turbulence, which was unsettling.
“But, he had a nice break when he got back and he has recovered well. I feel he’s turned the corner, and he will appreciate both the step back in trip to five furlongs, and the return to Ascot,” the trainer said.
Lady Aurelia, last year’s winner, and Battaash in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, are the runners fancied for the prize.
Finally there is Wootton, trained in France by Henri-Alex Pantall, who runs in the St James Palace Stakes.
The Wootton Bassett colt will attempt to bounce back from a disappointing fourth in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains – the French 2000 Guineas. He was previously undefeated in three starts.
Updated: June 18, 2018 05:32 PM