Gronkowski's big chance to grab spot in Kentucky Derby line-up
Gronkowski, named after an American football star and with US ambitions of his own, aims to secure a berth in the Kentucky Derby in the second running of the valuable Listed 32Red Burradon Stakes (3.55) at Newcastle.
The Phoenix Thoroughbred-owned colt has already accrued 20 qualifying points and seeks to enhance his claim for a spot at Churchill Downs on May 5 in a race branded the final leg of the 'European Road to the Kentucky Derby'.
The £100,000 Burradon is the last of a seven-race series in Britain, Ireland and France offering qualification points for America's most famous race, but Gronkowski's trainer Jeremy Noseda is focusing on one step at a time.
"He's in great nick and I'm pleased with him," he said. "This is the biggest test of his career and we'll see where we are after the race."
Gronkowski, named after double Super Bowl winner Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, won at the course last month before taking his unbeaten all-weather record to three at Kempton 23 days ago.
Connections of all-weather debutante Nyaleti are dreaming of big races closer to home with the Qipco 1,000 Guineas among ambitions for a filly who won at Group 3 level last season before finishing second in the Rockfel Stakes.
Trainer Mark Johnston's son and assistant Charlie said: "She had a very good season last year before disappointing in the Fillies' Mile, but perhaps that was just one step too far at the end of a long year.
"She looks to have wintered very well and we've been happy with her work. We're still hopeful she's a genuine Guineas horse and this should tell us how high we should be aiming. She's never run on a surface like this before but she should be fine on it."
The John Gosden-trained Purser also showed decent form in Group races last season and proved himself on the all-weather when sauntering to a nine-length success at Lingfield last October.
Richard Fahey claimed the inaugural running of the Burradon 12 months ago with Forest Ranger and relies on the highly regarded Great Prospector, who has entries in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas and Irish equivalent.
King eyes handicap riches
On a card offering nearly £255,000 in prize-money, the Betway Handicap (3.20) is the second most valuable race at £85,000 and Alan King is double-handed in the 1m4f contest with last-time-out winners Cosmeapolitan and Lexington Law.
The trainer said: "I was delighted with Cosmeapolitan at Kempton last month and I'd expect him to run very well. He's gone up in the weights but he won with a bit in hand and he'll be suited by this return to a bit further.
"Lexington Law has won over course and distance and deserves a crack at this after winning his last two races, although he's higher in the handicap as a result."
Sofia's Rock, third in a Group 3 at Newmarket in July, heads the weights on his first start since August.
"He's been gelded and we're trying a hood on him as he can be a bit free in his races," said Charlie Johnston. "If he can get into a good rhythm he's a classy horse on his day."
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