Barney Roy staying in training with Lockinge first on 2018 agenda
Richard Hannon's disappointment at Barney Roy's heavy defeat in the Champion Stakes has been tempered considerably by the news that the colt stays in training.
Hannon, who with hindsight feels it would have been better to have run the Champion Stakes on the inner hurdles track prepared especially for the eventuality of testing ground, said: "I've spoken to Joe Osborne [Godolphin chief executive] and he's told me to wrap Barney Roy up and prepare him for the Lockinge, which is great news.
"I'd always hoped we'd have him next year, but nothing had been said and so we're all delighted. The Lockinge is a great place to start and then we can decide after whether to go for the Queen Anne or Prince of Wales's at Royal Ascot."
Reflecting on Saturday's performance, when the St James's Palace winner failed to pick up in his usual fashion and trailed home ninth of ten behind seven-length winner Cracksman, Hannon said: "The winner won very well and is an extremely good horse, but Barney Roy couldn't get his feet out of the ground. It was a big ask for him in that ground.
"He travelled well and turning in I thought he might do something, but James [Doyle] said he's just too good a mover for that ground. His stride is way too long and he didn't get a chance to use it, but a lot of good horses were beaten on that ground and I'm not on my own."
The decision to stick to the traditional round course, rather than switch to the inner configuration which has been available for Champions Day since last year was made on Thursday, before the 48-hour declaration stage and before the worst of the weather arrived.
Hannon said: "It's slightly disappointing, as I think the inner track would have been much better for everybody, but you can't blame Chris Stickels [clerk of the course], who does a very good job. He did say he'd let everyone know before declaration time, but it certainly wants looking at for next year."
Ascot's director of communications Nick Smith is adamant the right decision was made at the time and explained: "The rule is that a decision has to be made before declarations, and that rule was drawn up after considerable consultation.
"On Thursday morning it was good to firm, and firm in places, on the inner course, and there was still good in the description on the round course. We couldn't have swapped at that time as we're not looking to change the nature of an autumn race.
"Only if it was heavy ground at the time, or if heavy ground was very likely, would we have switched, and that was the last opportunity. We have to comply with the rule, and the bottom line is that it was the correct decision."
He added: "The track rode fine for a late autumn raceday. I think it would take an almost unequivocally obvious situation for us to use the inner track, as we would not set out to change the nature of the day."