Berlin Tango bids to become another first-time winner for Balding team
Road To The Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes 1m | 3yo | RTV
Although the Road To The Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes is a rather grandiose moniker for a race whose winner is more likely to turn up at Wolverhampton next time than ‘Run for the Roses’ in Louisville, there is no denying it is an intriguing little field.
Forecast favourite Berlin Tango improved with each run on turf last season, culminating in a third in Listed company at Doncaster when less than a length behind Wichita, who later finished placed behind the mighty Pinatubo in the Dewhurst.
That form entitles him to plenty of respect. He should have no trouble with the switch to Polytrack (he’s well suited by fast ground on turf and his half-brother made a winning all-weather debut) and the Andrew Balding yard has had plenty go in first time up over the winter.
However, his sole win came when allowed a soft lead at Ffos Las, so he’s hardly what could be call bombproof.
The Ex-French-trained Chares adds an exciting element on his British debut. Unbeaten, he won his first two starts by a long way, then came from last to first to complete the hat-trick in a Listed race.
He’s another having his first taste of the all-weather, but his pedigree provides plenty of encouragement as half-brother Qaysar is unbeaten in two starts at Kempton.
Although you expect he’s some way down the pecking order at home, nothing really shone for the yard at two, so there could be a few vacancies when it comes to Classic runners and he, rather than Berlin Tango, is probably favourite to lead the field in the early stages, which could be advantageous.
Ratings point to this being a big step up in class for the hat-trick seeking Ayr Harbour, although it wouldn’t be surprising if it didn’t play out that way.
The once-raced Naval Commander is definitely flying far too high but is at least guaranteed prize-money.
What do the stats say
Berlin Tango is forecast to start favourite and his potential backers will be heartened by the fine form of Andrew Balding, who has had four winners from his last 12 runners.
There cannot be many firsts left for Aidan O'Brien, but he breaks new ground as New World Tapestry becomes his maiden runner at the track.
By War Front out of Yorkshire Oaks heroine Tapestry, he last ran in Britain on the all-weather, finishing eighth of 11 in the rearranged Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle in November.
What do the trainers say
Mick Appleby, trainer of Ayr Harbour
I've been pleased with him, winning his last two. This is a trappy little race, but he could go well. I don't think a mile will be a problem and he's in good shape. He's ready for this level – or at least a try at it – and hopefully he's up to it.
Andrew Balding, trainer of Berlin Tango
It's his first run back and others might have a fitness advantage, but he's working to a decent enough level and this looks the right sort of race to start him off in. I hope he'll progress and the track shouldn't be an issue. He goes well on our Polytrack surface at home and he had a sibling [Jupiter Light] who won on the all-weather.
Jane Chapple-Hyam, trainer of Chares
Everyone calls him either Charz or Charez, but it doesn't matter! He came to me in October after he was purchased at the sales and has had time to strengthen. He's a very nice individual and he's galloped with proven horses I've got, so we're happy to give it a go. If he stamps his authority on this, we could maybe have a go at the Feilden Stakes.
Robyn Brisland, trainer of Naval Commander
I thought he'd win first time out at Southwell because he's a decent horse. The plan was to win and then come here. He finished second, but this is a good opportunity to pitch him in at the deep end with good prize-money. I think he's a nice horse and the surface can be only a bonus.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of New World Tapestry
He is ready to start and we think the track, trip and conditions will suit. We think he is in good enough order for his first run of the season.
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