Alenquer gives boost to Adayar with fluent win for Marquand and Haggas
Alenquer, who beat the subsequent Derby hero Adayar at Sandown in April, justified warm favouritism with a fluent win in the King Edward VII Stakes.
Recent Derby winners have generally proved hugely disappointing in subsequent races, so it's good to see the form of the latest Epsom scorer boosted.
Alenquer missed a Classic campaign of his own after enduring minor issues following that Sandown success, but trainer William Haggas is renowned for his patient approach and that again paid dividends with this Group 2 success in a race fondly known to some as the 'Ascot Derby'.
Belloccio gained an uncontested lead in the early and middle stages under Silvestre de Sousa as the six runners splashed through standing water on a track whose going description was changed to heavy before this race.
However, Belloccio's measure was quickly taken by Sir Mark Todd's Tasman Bay two furlongs out and it quickly became apparent the race would develop into a duel between the Le Havre colt and Alenquer.
Tom Marquand had ridden Alenquer with supreme confidence and, after travelling supremely well into the race, the 13-8 favourite seized command from Tasman Bay inside the final furlong and ran on strongly to score by a length and a half.
The result was never really in doubt once Alenquer ranged upsides Tasman Bay over a furlong out and, although Todd's first Royal Ascot runner did not go down without a fight, Alenquer proved comfortably superior.
Title finished two and a half lengths back in third place, ahead of The Mediterranean, who seemed to be toiling in the deep mud halfway up the straight but finished with real purpose to snatch fourth place. He looks one to note when stepped up in trip.
Winning rider Marquand said: “Alenquer stuck on well to win. It’s just a shame he didn’t get a fair crack of things after his Sandown win, but Mr Haggas has proved the virtue of patience once again.
“I think he has a really bright future. He’s still raw and is learning the ropes.”
Alenquer’s German pedigree suggests soft ground could be important to him, but Marquand is by no means convinced cut in the ground is essential.
“I’m not certain he needs this sort of heavy ground,” the rider said. “Give him a fair surface with a bit of moisture in it and I think he’ll be fine.
"I got really nice instructions from William, as always. He just said get him relaxed, find a rhythm and see how you go and don’t go too soon – be confident.”
Bookmaker Paddy Power reacted to the win by halving Alenquer's odds to 12-1 (from 25) for next month's King George at Ascot.
However, the impression given by Alenquer was that of a fast-improving colt who looks better the further he goes, and talk of the St Leger also looks highly realistic.
Trainer's wife Maureen Haggas said: "He could easily be a St Leger horse. He wasn't stopping.
"He's going the right way, for sure. He can be naughty at home, a right boy, but today and at Sandown he's been concentrated and focused. He's turning into a really nice horse."
All the reaction on Friday at Royal Ascot:
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