Today’s Coronation Cup – transferred from its traditional home of Epsom – is the first Group 1 contest of the year in Britain and seven will go to post at Newmarket for a fascinating renewal of this historic and prestigious 12f race for four-year-olds and older.
When Ghaiyyath won at Meydan back in February I remember thinking the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot would be his early season target in Britain as I am convinced 10f is his optimum distance despite winning the Prix Baden-Baden in Germany over today’s additional quarter mile back in September.
The striking son of Dubawi was given a poor ride in the Arc – albeit on soft ground – when he went off far too quickly under William Buick and I wonder if his exuberant style of racing will lend itself to today’s stiff 12f on the wide open spaces of Newmarket? He is without question the most talented and fastest horse in the field, but I wonder if the petrol will give way inside the last furlong? If he settles in the early part of the race, he may be one to back in running, but without that information and at a best-priced 6/4 with Unibet he is reluctantly overlooked.
Last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck (3.35) has failed to win in five subsequent outings although he would have gone close in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita back in November with a better run. The blinkers he wore in the Hong Kong Vase the following month are dispensed with today and at 7/1 with bet365 he gets the each way vote. He should have the race run to suit with Ghaiyyath likely to make it a decent test although that should also suit the duel Ascot Gold Cup winner Stradivarius who has not raced at this distance since finishing runner up in a handicap from a mark of 90 over three years ago.
Last year’s winner Defoe is reported to be working very well and will have his supporters, but I feel this is a better race today and I hope to see Aidan O’Brien gain a record ninth Coronation Cup.
Edinburgh Castle (4.10) has only raced three times and was slowly away in both starts last season winning a poor race at Epsom before finishing third at Chelmsford. Both those efforts were over 10f and he certainly gave the impression a step up in trip would suit. He has never encountered fast ground previously but his breeding – by Sea The Stars – suggests he should appreciate a sound surface.
Silvestre De Sousa takes over in the saddle on Andrew Balding’s four-year-old with Oisin Murphy at Lingfield. The yard have made an excellent start to the campaign and the 4/1 with William Hill looks a decent each way price given they are offering four places on this 12-runner contest.
ITV are also broadcasting three races from Lingfield Park who stage their Oaks and Derby Trials on the turf as well as seven races on polytrack. The winners of the corresponding races 12 months ago – Anapurna and Anthony Van Dyck – went on to Epsom glory and the colts’ race looks a belter this afternoon.
We start with the fillies, however, and John Gosden saddles three of the nine runners including Miss Yoda who won her first couple of starts before finishing runner up to Ralph Beckett’s Max Vega on heavy ground in the listed Zetland Stakes back on the autumn. The favourite can be a bit keen in her races and the winner failed to frank the form at Kempton midweek although it does appear as if he will always be seen to best effect on soft ground. The market leader is 11/8 with bet365.
Ralph Beckett has a good record in this corresponding race and, while his representative Heart Reef (2.40) has to improve on her two-year-old form, she is taken to do just that with the forecast fast ground and step up in trip likely to suit. Beckett should know where he stands with the favourite through Max Vega and Oisin Murphy takes the ride on the filly who has been well backed in recent days and is taken to reward each way support at 13/2 with Boylesports.
The form of Berkshire Rocco’s third in the Zetland Stakes will get a boost if Miss Yoda lands the Fillies’ Trial but I think the Balding colt may have to play second fiddle to English King (3.15) who created such a favourable impression when scoring at Newcastle on his second start back in November.
The third horse home at Gosforth Park – Galsworthy – won at Kempton midweek and trainer Ed Walker believes he has an exciting prospect on his hands. The selection is 4/1 at bet365.
Roger Charlton has had few runners so far this season but those that have made the track so far this week have pulled up few trees. That tempers confidence in Imperium (3.50) in the mile-and-a-half-handicap although I am convinced there is more to come from the horse this season.
The selection – 10/3 with William Hill – was caught out of his ground when runner up here over 2m when last seen back in October and jockey Jason Watson will be keen to get his mount involved from a moderate draw in stall ten. Natty Night should ensure a decent test which is paramount for a horse who obviously stays two miles. Whatever happens today Imperium is one to keep onside this term. Note Charlton saddles the 1000 Guineas favourite Quadrilateral on Sunday – I am sure all associated with the yard would hope to see a big run from their inmate today ahead of the fillies’ classic.
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