2,000 Guineas favourite Point Lonsdale out to confirm Classic claims in Chesham
2.30 Royal Ascot
Chesham Stakes (Listed) | 7f | 2yo | ITV/Sky
It feels pretty odd to see just ten runners line up in a juvenile race at Royal Ascot this week. The smaller field is due to the race conditions, which allow just two-year-olds whose sire or dam won a race over 1m2f or further to run. Young horses bred for middle distances are often backwards at this time of year, but a handful have the precocity to compete over this 7f trip.
Aidan O'Brien has run Churchill, September, Lope Y Fernandez and Battleground in the Chesham in the last five years – winning it on three occasions – and is represented by Point Lonsdale this time, the current 20-1 favourite for next season's 2,000 Guineas.
The son of Australia made a good impression when he justified 7-4 favouritism on his debut on yielding ground at the Curragh and the fact he briefly looked outpaced two furlongs from home before surging clear to win by five and a half lengths can only be considered a positive. He showcased enough pace to lead that field throughout the early stages and really stretched in the final 100 yards to win going away.
It would be a surprise if similarly aggressive tactics weren't adopted despite the rise in class and he's been earmarked for the Chesham since before his debut run 17 days ago. An impressive victory could see his Guineas price halve with the deeper ground the only imponderable.
The Charlie Appleby-trained New Science and John and Thady Gosden's runner Reach For The Moon will renew their rivalry after they finished first and second respectively at Yarmouth on their debuts.
New Science emerged from that race as the most likely horse to continue to progress at this distance given his push-button acceleration and he should confirm the form with Reach For The Moon, who lacked the same gears and will be better suited to a tougher test of stamina in time.
Debut winners Great Max and Masekela will find their best strides late but have a few pounds to find on RPRs, while Sweeping and Withering will look to emulate 2014 winner Richard Pankhurst by breaking their maiden in the race.
Race analysis by Tom Collins
What they say
Michael Bell, trainer of Great Max
He was impressive at Newbury and we've always liked him. This was always the suitable option for him if he was classy enough. The ground is an unknown quantity but most of them are in the same boat – let's hope he's got the biggest paddle. His sire [Wootton Bassett] and dam's sire [Youmzain] have form on soft ground, and one thing Jack [Mitchell, jockey] said at Newbury was the ground was possibly a bit lively for him.
Charlie Appleby, trainer of New Science
He won well at Yarmouth and has improved mentally for the experience. Ground conditions will obviously be very different here but his pedigree suggests he might be fine on it.
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Point Lonsdale
The ground is going to be far from ideal for any horse and I've no idea how Point Lonsdale will handle it to be perfectly honest. The reason we went to the Curragh with him was because we had the Chesham in our minds and we were very happy with him there. We haven't done a whole lot with him since but, anything he has done, we've been very pleased with.
John Gosden, joint-trainer of Reach For The Moon
He's a talented colt who has moved forward in his work since his debut second at Yarmouth. That was on quick ground but whether he's as effective on this ground is a total unknown.
Reporting by Matt Rennie
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