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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

'It'd be a dream if we could get on the scoresheet this week'

Nine trainers hoping to open their Royal Ascot accounts this year

T For Tango: trainer James Nash delighted to have Pat Smullen on board in Windsor Castle
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Aidan O'Brien will almost certainly ensure Ireland is on the scoresheet at Royal Ascot by adding to his 55 winners at the meeting, but a number of his colleagues are aiming to get off the mark. Mark Boylan gets the lowdown from some of those bidding for first-scorer success . . .   

Jessica Harrington
Entries: Brother Bear, Coventry Stakes (Tuesday); Drumfad Bay, Sandringham Handicap (Wednesday); Torcedor, Gold Cup (Thursday); Alpha Centauri and Whitefountainfairy, Albany Stakes (Friday)

"Alpha Centauri has never looked back since she came to me and we always thought she was a smart filly. Brother Bear skipped over the ground on good to firm at Leopardstown and I was very happy with how he handled heavy ground and a bad draw at the Curragh last time. Torcedor has done very well since he came to me and a wind operation over the winter seems to have helped him. He seems to be very versatile at home; we've been working him with a view to dropping him in behind. If I had a winner at Royal Ascot it would be another landmark success and I'd be absolutely delighted."

Joseph O'Brien
Entries: Now You're Talking, Queen Mary Stakes (Wednesday) and Albany Stakes (Friday); True Blue Moon, Norfolk Stakes (Thursday); Motherland, Gold Cup (Thursday); Felix Mendelssohn and Jaqen H'Ghar, Duke of Edinburgh Handicap (Friday); Intricately, Coronation Stakes (Friday)

"It's a huge meeting and it's where you'd always hope to be. It's nice just to be taking part at a place like this but it'd be brilliant if we could get a winner out of it. I think we'll have five or six runners, with True Blue Moon likely to run in the Norfolk."

True Blue Moon: "likely to run in the Norfolk Stakes" according to Joseph O'Brien
Fozzy Stack
Entries: Sirici, Queen Mary Stakes (Wednesday); Gino Severini, King George V Handicap (Thursday)

"It's the place where everybody wants to be and it'd be a dream if we could get on the scoresheet. Sirici will definitely run and she's in good order, even if she probably needs to improve a little in a hot race. It's touch and go whether Gino will get in but if he does hopefully he'll give a bold showing."

James Nash
Entry: T For Tango, Windsor Castle Stakes (Tuesday)

"It'd be amazing if we could have our first winner at the meeting and he's a horse we really like. He was very impressive first time out and things didn't work out for him last time at Naas, but we're hoping he'll appreciate the better ground. It's a tough race but we're not going over there for the sake of it. We're hoping he'll be competitive, and it's great to have Pat Smullen aboard."

Adrian Keatley
Entries: G Force, Wokingham Handicap (Saturday)

"You can be trying for a long time to get among the winners at Royal Ascot but that's because it's what we're all wanting to achieve – hopefully we can get there one day. G Force won a schooling race at Navan the other day and has done a nice piece of work since. The Wokingham has been the plan all along, before heading to the Stewards' Cup and Ayr Gold Cup. He's a Group horse going back into a handicap and we're hoping he'll be involved."

True Valour: trainer Johnny Murtagh expects him to outrun odds of 33-1 in the Jersey

Johnny Murtagh
Entry: True Valour, Jersey Stakes (Wednesday)

"He's in super form and although I see he's quoted at 33-1 I think he'll outrun his price. It would be fantastic if he won. I had a lot of great days at Royal Ascot as a jockey and since I started training it's always been a big ambition to have a winner at the meeting."

Sheila Lavery
Entries: Twin Star, Hampton Court Stakes and King George V Handicap (Thursday); Mr Scarlet, Commonwealth Cup (Friday)

"It would be very special if we were to be in the winner's enclosure, but even to run into the prize-money would be fantastic. They're both entered in the sale on Monday night and fully intending to run. It will depend on who buys them as to their final plans, but they're well on track at the moment and I'm hoping it's good ground for both of them."

Mamba Noire impressed on her debut for Ken Condon and now heads to the Queen Mary
Ken Condon
Entries: Romanised, Coventry Stakes (Tuesday); Mamba Noire, Queen Mary Stakes (Wednesday)

"We went close with Newsletter in the Queen Mary a few years ago and it'd be brilliant if we could have a winner this year. It's a very important, prestigious meeting and the best horses always seem to turn up. The ground is too quick for Elusive Beauty to run in the Sandringham but we have two good contenders in the two-year-old races and we're looking forward it."

Joe Murphy
Entries: Born To Play, Hampton Court Stakes and King George V Handicap (Thursday)

"A winner anywhere is great but it'd be something else to do it at Royal Ascot. He's in the sale on Monday night and whoever buys him will determine his plan, but we're ready to run. I believe he's a very good horse with speed and stamina. I don't like talking up my horses but you can see what he's all about from watching him run."

It's a tough race but we're not going over there for the sake of it
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