Caravaggio bids to cement Royal Ascot claims on his return
EMS Copiers Lacken Stakes | Group 3 | 6f, 3yo | ATR
One of the most exciting three-year-olds in training and already a best-priced 4-1 favourite for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, Caravaggio makes his eagerly-anticipated return at Naas on Sunday.
One-time favourite for the 2,000 Guineas, the Scat Daddy colt signed off on an unblemished juvenile campaign last season with victory in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, which resembled little more than an exercise gallop.
Connections seem to have shelved ideas of stepping Caravaggio up to a mile and will instead be bidding to secure top sprinting honours, beginning with victory in this race that connections last won with Due Diligence in 2014.
Naas is, however, something of a graveyard track for short-priced favourites, and that along with Ryan Moore’s less than impressive tally in Ireland so far this year - two wins from 17 rides - may offer rivals of Caravaggio some hope of turning over the hotpot.
The Ger Lyons-trained Psychedelic Funk finished third behind Caravaggio in the Coventry at Royal Ascot last year, but he has yet to recapture his early-season form from 12 months ago which saw him win back-to-back races at this track.
What they say
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Caravaggio and Pedestal
He's ready to start back and we're very happy with how he's progressed. Royal Ascot would be on his agenda but we'll just get this out of the way first and hopefully he can run a nice race on his return. He's always showed us an awful lot of speed. The rain that's falling certainly wouldn't be a help. Pedestal is also ready to start back and we hope he can run a nice race.
Jessica Harrington, trainer of Khukri and Tinder
It's going to be a tough ask taking on Caravaggio, but Khukri came out of his race at Navan very well and I'm happy with him. There aren’t many opportunities for Tinder so we'll just see how she goes.
Darren Bunyan, trainer of Mister Trader
I’m not as worried about the ground as I am about his fitness. We missed a couple of days with him recently as he got an overreach, but he’s ready to start back now and he should progress from this. He gave Caravaggio something to think about in the Marble Hill last season, but he’s probably not where we'd like him to be in terms of fitness right now. The Commonwealth Cup is his target and he should progress a lot from this.
Sheila Lavery, trainer of Mr Scarlet
I knew going to Navan he wasn't quite fit enough for his seasonal debut. He's just a very hard horse to get fit at home and I don't really have anything at home that's fast enough to work with him. He seems very well but Caravaggio is going to be very hard to beat. If we could finish second to him we'd be thrilled.