Ward piles on the positives again with ace Arawak
Coventry Stakes | Group 2 | 6f | 2yo | ITV/RUK
Wesley Ward has never held back on superlatives for his two-year-olds – and time and again he has been proved right.
Arawak is another the trainer is enthusing about after a breathtaking win at Belmont Park when the scheduled turf five-furlong race for his debut was switched to the dirt.
"He wasn’t as impressive in his dirt race as he is on the grass,” said Ward after the colt's seven-length stroll.
“He came back and worked well against my best filly. He’s got a bigger, longer stride and the Coventry is six furlongs, so he should like that."
Ward was equally impressed with the way Arawak worked at Ascot a week ago, and added: "It would be a coveted win for me. I’d love to take that one down as the Coventry is such a prestigious race –undoubtedly the best two-year-old race in Europe this year – and he’ll have to step it up to win."
Favourite is new experience for Harrington
It has been some year already for Jessica Harrington as she has her sights set on a first winner at Royal Ascot. Gold Cups at Cheltenham, Punchestown and Leopardstown, plus an Irish National triumph, have already gone into the 2017 register, and she now finds herself in the unusual position of having a favourite for a big Flat race in Brother Bear, who made a big impression in his Listed win at the Curragh.
Harrington said: "He won his maiden at Leopardstown well before landing the Marble Hill at the Curragh. We've been delighted with him ever since and he's in good form. He'll need to improve again to win but hopefully he can step up."
Racing syndicate not for selling Woodcote winner
Offers have been turned down for De Bruyne Horse after his Listed win in the Woodcote at Epsom on Derby day – the race won by Buratino before his 2015 success in this contest.
Tom Palin, racing manager to the Middleham Park Racing owners, said: “Ryan Moore was taken with him at Epsom and definitely thought he was an Ascot type.
"We wouldn’t swap him – he has the form, class and ticks a lot of the stats – so we're going there as confident as we can be going into a Royal Ascot race.”
Rebel yell if Rajasinghe remains unbeaten?
Richard Spencer, in his first full season with a training licence, has been happy to go under the radar with Newcastle all-weather maiden winner Rajasinghe, owned by Classic-winning connections.
Scoring on the all-weather has been no hindrance to the last two race winners, Caravaggio and Buratino, and Rajasinghe runs in the colours of Phil Cunningham, whose Cockney Rebel landed the 2,000 Guineas in 2007.
Newmarket-based Spencer said: “He's taken a step forward from his debut and he's worked well on the turf, doing all we've asked of him.
"He's got a good draw next to Brother Bear and around other leading contenders. He'll get further and, in an open race, fingers crossed he's there with every chance.”
Trainer with the mostest looking for number nine
Murillo does not have the trademark of previous Aidan O’Brien winners of this race, having been thrashed on his Curragh debut before dropping to five furlongs to land a Tipperary maiden, but he is still among the favourites to give his trainer a ninth win in the race 20 years after Harbour Master set the ball rolling.
O’Brien said: “Murillo won his maiden nicely at Tipperary. We think he's progressed and that stepping up to six furlongs won't be a problem. We think he'll run a good race."
What they say
Charlie Appleby, trainer of Aqabah and Zaman
Aqabah won on his first start at Ascot so has course experience and then he went to the Curragh and finished fourth, but I wasn’t disappointed because the ground went against us. He has an American pedigree and the soft going didn't suit him. I've been happy with him since the Curragh. Zaman won on his only start at York last month and, as he was purchased at the breeze-up sales, he knew his job first time out and looks to have strengthened since.
Richard Hannon, trainer of Denaar and De Bruyne Horse
Denaar came from the breeze-ups and showed he was very tough at Newbury. That run will have brought him on a lot mentally. I'd expect him to improve and run a big race. I find it hard to split him and De Bruyne Horse – they're drawn next to each other and hopefully will finish next to each other.
William Haggas, trainer of Headway
The Chester form isn't really working out but he's a nice, uncomplicated horse who will love the ground. The stiff track should suit him and he should run a good race. I like him.
Charlie Hills, trainer of Nebo
He reminds me of Red Clubs, who won the Coventry for my father Barry. He's pleased me and come on since Newbury. That form looks as if it's working out nicely and I think he'll have a good chance. He's a professional horse and has never put a foot wrong. It was easy ground at Newbury but quicker conditions wouldn't worry me.
Clive Cox, trainer of Prince Of The Dark
He's always shown us a lot of pace at home. The fast ground will suit and, like many of our two-year-olds, we think he's improving.
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of US Navy Flag and Murillo
US Navy Flag ran a good race when third in the Marble Hill on soft ground. The quicker conditions should be a big help and we think he's progressing.