Mustashry and Regal Reality give Stoute a strong hand in Joel Stakes
Shadwell Joel Stakes (Group 2) | 1m | 3yo+ | ITV4/RUK
Time and again the Rowley Mile provides proof that you don't need a big field to provide an intriguing puzzle and, while five runners might be a disappointment on the face of it, this is a tightly-knit affair with just 3lb covering the field on ratings.
Adam Kirby makes a welcome return to riding after a ten-day hiatus due to back issues and will be hoping Zonderland responds to his favoured fast surface, but it is the Sir Michael Stoute-trained pair of Mustashry and Regal Reality that head the market.
Mustashry put in a remarkable performance under Jim Crowley at Doncaster when repelling both D'bai and Oh This Is Us, and may not have stopped on his upward trajectory just yet.
"Doncaster was the shortest trip he's ever run over and, when the two loomed up on his outside, they looked like they would go past him," said Angus Gold, racing manager to Hamdan Al Maktoum.
"I was really impressed with the way he put his head down and fought back. We’re going back to a mile, which should suit him, and the ground should be ideal so if he's still in the same form. I’d like to see him run a good race."
Stoute's other runner, Regal Reality, was unable to extricate himself from the Haydock mud last time but the three-year-old son of Intello had previously made rapid strides and will only be having his fifth career start.
Cheveley Park Stud's Chris Richardson said: "The ground was particularly unpleasant at Haydock but he's come out of the race well, and hopefully we’ll see a different performance with the ground likely to be quite quick at Newmarket.
"I know he won on easy ground last year but, as we saw at Goodwood, this should be much more to his liking."
Richardson added: "Zonderland's in good form and he came to run a big race at Goodwood but it was just a bit loose for him."
Group 1 success in the Queen Anne means Accidental Agent must concede weight all round but, after running no sort of race in the Prix Jacques le Marois, Eve Johnson Houghton is expecting a big run as her stable star builds towards a return mission to Ascot on British Champions Day.
"Accidental Agent has got to carry a Group 1 penalty, but I believe that he's still improving and I can’t see why that won’t negate the burden of having to give weight," said Johnson Houghton.
"He was flat for a fortnight after France but has thrived since then. He seems in very good form but Mustashry looks useful and giving weight to him will be hard."
Zabeel Prince has been off the track since May and, on the evidence of his Doncaster Listed win back in March, is arguably the one horse among the five that won't relish the conditions drying out any further.
Roger Varian said: "Zabeel Prince suffered a setback after the Lockinge but he's trained well into this race and is right in the thick of things on the figures. He wouldn’t want the ground too fast, so we’ll keep one eye on conditions."
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