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Appleby big guns dominate Feilden as Guineas team starts to take shape

Highland Avenue: impressive winner of the Feilden Stakes on Tuesday
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A big week for Charlie Appleby started on the front foot with Highland Avenue leading home stablemate Secret Protector for the Godolphin trainer in the Listed bet365 Feilden Stakes. 

Appleby saddles Master Of The Seas and La Barrosa in Thursday's Craven Stakes as his Qipco 2,000 Guineas squad starts to take shape, and his big guns looked in good order in the Feilden as Highland Avenue scored by a length and a quarter with a further six back to favourite Royal Champion in third. 

The winner is likely to drop back to a mile according to Appleby, but the Classic-winning trainer was in no rush to commit the son of Dubawi to big-race targets at this stage.

After Highland Avenue was cut to 16-1 (from 40) for the Guineas by Betfair Sportsbook, Appleby said: "We're not trying to achieve too much too soon with him. He's well entered up, but I'm in no rush.

"He picked up well in what I felt was a nice field and the second horse, who is crying out for a bit further, adds a bit of substance."

He added: "As Highland Avenue sharpens up I think he's going to get quicker and I think he'll be more suited to a mile than going up to ten furlongs.

"I'd love to run four in the Guineas if I thought they had a great chance, but I don't want to lose this horse in trying to roll the dice with him because there are big races to be won for sure."

While Master Of The Seas and La Barrosa go on Guineas trial on Thursday, Appleby revealed that Group 1 Vertem Futurity runner-up One Ruler is heading straight for the 2,000 Guineas on May 1.

Bright future for Mutasaabeq

Mutasaabeq was introduced at around 10-1 by bookmakers for the 2,000 Guineas after demolishing three rivals in the 7f conditions stakes.

A standout on pedigree and looks, the son of 1,000 Guineas winner Ghanaati took his record to two from two over course and distance, although he does not hold a Guineas entry at this stage. 

"He loved the ground today and I think he's a very talented horse," said Lambourn trainer Charlie Hills, who did not entirely rule out supplementing for the Classic.

Charlie Hills greets Mutasaabeq after the colt had maintained his unbeaten record in the 7f conditions stakes

"We didn't put him in the Guineas – we spoke about it and were just always a little bit concerned that temperament wise he was a little bit immature so we wanted to go down the soft approach. 

"We'll have to speak to Angus Gold and everyone at Shadwell and make a decision. We're mindful it's a long year and there are lots of other very good races we can aim at."

Forca Brasil scores for Joorabchian

Football uber-agent Kia Joorabchian looks to have made a smart juvenile signing with Forca Brasil, who a little later than originally planned made an impressive winning debut in the 5f novice stakes.

Joorabchian is best known for his ties with some of football's biggest names, including Philippe Coutinho and David Luiz, but he has become a growing influence at the yearling sales as he expands the number of horses in training under his Amo Racing banner, and Forca Brasil could potentially be on the owner's teamsheet for Royal Ascot in June.

Forca Brasil (left): the speedy juvenile could be one for the Norfolk Stakes

"He's got a lot of speed behind him and hopefully he will be a good horse and lead us into more fun things," said Joorabchian. "It's still a little bit of time until Ascot, but we're always trying to get there and fingers crossed we do."

Asked about his increasing involvement in racing, he said: "We're still a very small operation compared to the big guys – we're like David fighting Goliath so we have to keep fighting."

Forca Brasil was withdrawn by the racecourse vet just 20 minutes before his intended debut in the Brocklesby Stakes at Doncaster last month, a decision trainer George Boughey had previously been unhappy about but was now willing to forget after this three-quarter-length success under Rossa Ryan, who is retained by the owner. 

"It was one of those things and we moved on pretty quickly," said Boughey. "He's going to be a really fun horse for his owner and he looks a Norfolk Stakes type at the moment."

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As Highland Avenue sharpens up I think he's going to get quicker and I think he'll be more suited to a mile than going up to ten furlongs
E.W. Terms