RICHARD Hannon believes Toormore will have a “huge chance” of claiming Group One gold in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
The trainer thinks his five-year-old ranks among the top milers this term after finally starting to recapture the kind of form that saw him crowned champion juvenile in 2013.
The son of Arakan opened his account year with victory in the bet365 Mile at Sandown when he had the reopposing Dutch Connection a neck back in second.
That pair are going to clash again, although Toormore does not have to concede 3lb this time.
Hannon said: “I was delighted with his run at Sandown and he would have needed that badly. He carried a 3lb penalty so you’ve got to say everything is positive.
“Toormore has claims to being the best miler, he’s already a Group One winner and was champion two-year-old, he was only beaten narrowly last year and he must have a huge chance.”
Toormore is one of four runners for Godolphin, with the Charlie Hills-trained Dutch Connection and Roger Varian’s pair of Barchan and Belardo, seventh and fourth respectively at Sandown, also sporting the royal blue colours.
It could be a significant weekend for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, which enjoyed a double at York on Dante day – their royal blue colours will be carried by Birchwood in tomorrow’s French at 2000 Guineas at Deauville.
Like the aforementioned Toormore, the Richard Fahey-trained Birchwood will be ridden by James Doyle and connections have high hopes for a horse that has not raced since finishing third at America’s Breeders’ Cup meeting last October.
Meanwhile Godolphin’s Emotionless, an imposing winner of Doncaster’s At The Races Champagne Stakes last September, is on course to make his seasonal return in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot after sidestepping the 2000 Guineas.
Withhold, an eye-catching fourth on his racecourse debut at Haydock last month, can enhance a family tradition in the justgiving.com/marcia-sanderson For Macmillan Maiden Stakes at Thirsk today.
Prince Khalid Abdullah’s colt, trained by Charlie Hills, will be out to go one better than his half-brother Three Peaks, who ran a cracking race to chase home red-hot favourite Famous Kid over a mile at Thirsk two years ago.
Feature race is the £20,000 Constant Security Services Handicap over five furlongs that offers the in-form Tumblewind a chance to follow up her impressive win over course and distance three weeks ago. Scarcroft trainer Richard Whitaker’s mare has won twice from five visits to Thirsk.
Frankel’s stallion career got off to the perfect start as his first-born son Cunco made a winning debut at Newbury.
The first of the great champion’s offspring to grace the racecourse, the John Gosden-trained Cunco ran down Isomer to get up by three-quarters of a length.
He could reappear in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Winning jockey Robert Havlin said: “I could not be more pleased. He has a few more gears left.”