The road to Royal Ascot starts with hot contest in Norfolk
The first staging of a £15,000 novice stakes for potential Royal Ascot contenders at Yarmouth has been supported by all the right connections and has attracted an eight-runner field that would do justice to a Grade 1 track.
Godolphin, Qatar Racing and Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum all have newcomers in the contest (2.20) which is envisaged to be a stepping stone to the Group 2 Coventry Stakes on June 19.
The line-up includes Legends Of War, a 900,000gns breeze-up purchase by the late leading sire Scat Daddy, who has been pleasing trainer John Gosden in his recent work on the Limekilns.
Two years ago, Gosden prepared Ardad to win a 5f maiden at the Norfolk track before he went on to land the Windsor Castle Stakes at the royal meeting but those races were only six days apart.
This new event, over a furlong longer, gives contenders more time to recover and Yarmouth are hoping it will be part of the Royal Ascot prelude for years to come.
Charlie Appleby fields another newcomer in Leading Spirit and is happy to support the new venture.
He said: "It's a great idea by Yarmouth to put this race on and it ticks a lot of boxes as it's just down the road for us. It looks a nice opportunity to introduce a precocious sort such as Leading Spirit, who we are hopeful will run a big race with a view to heading to Royal Ascot."
Roger Varian has his first two-year-old runner of the year in San Donato who is another who has been showing potential in his work. The son of Lope De Vega cost 500,000gns at Book Two of the Tattersalls October Sales last year and is already entered in the Listed Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar in October.
Henderson saddles first runner in Ricci silks
The colours of Rich and Susannah Ricci are carried for the first time by a Nicky Henderson-trained runner at Southwell when Palixandre makes his debut in the Compare Betting Odds at Bettingodds.com Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (8.35).
The Riccis have been involved with a horse at Seven Barrows in the past but this is the first time they have been outright owners. A gelding by Kapgarde, Palixandre cost €100,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale last June and faces six rivals on his debut.
Racing manager Joe Chambers said: "Rich and Susannah have previously had a horse in partnership with Nicky and having known each other for a number of years decided to purchase a store from the Derby Sale. Hopefully he can run a nice debut."
Can favourites maintain perfect record in Listed contest?
Favourites have won both runnings of the Listed Tennent's British Stallion Studs EBF Rothesay Stakes at Ayr (4.35) and Titi Makfi will bid to make it three.
Mark Johnston's filly looks to have been found a perfect opportunity to register her second win at Listed level, although she does have a 3lb penalty to shoulder for that success at Kempton in November.
Titi Makfi has one good effort in black type company to her name already this year, having chased home Isabel De Urbina at Goodwood this month, but was badly drawn when disappointing in a handicap at Chester last time.
Baby bids to keep Hourigan humming
Legendary trainer Michael Hourigan, who has managed horses such as Beef Or Salmon, Dorans Pride and A New Story to major successes, revealed that he had made no plans to retire after Humm Baby got the yard back among the winners at Sligo this month.
Hourigan may be in the twilight of his glittering training career, but in Humm Baby he has a mare capable of providing him with the winners he craves, continuing in the 2m4f handicap hurdle (5.45) at Wexford.
She will be ridden by David Mullins, who was also in the plate at Sligo.
In what is a typically competitive contest, Solar Heat, a versatile mare for Dot Love, looks to be a potential party pooper for Hourigan’s charge.
Ciaran Murphy, assistant trainer to Love, said: "We’re hoping she has a very good chance as long as the ground isn’t too quick. She won well on the Flat last time at Dundalk and she’s come out of that well. She'll go over fences later this summer as well.”
Read exclusive previews from 6pm daily on racingpost.com