CHARLIE APPLEBY is thrilled with the wellbeing of Hawkbill after confirming that his stable star will take on Europe’s top middle distance horse Postponed in a potentially mouthwatering renewal of the Juddmonte International at York next week.
The Coral-Eclipse winner has emerged victorious on each of his three outings this season and was following up a Royal Ascot win when landing the Group One Sandown showpiece under William Buick.
However Appleby is undeterred by the likely presence of the hot favourite Postponed who won the Great Voltigeur Stakes at the 2014 Ebor meeting before the colt started to show his class before winning last summer’s King George at Ascot and this year’s Coronation Cup on Derby day at Epsom.
Speaking after Sheikh Mohammed’s colt impressed in his latest workout, the Godolphin trainer said: “Hawkbill went through the gears nicely, and I was pleased with him. It was nice building work.
“He is the same body weight as he was going into the Eclipse, which is surprising because visually he appears heavier. The scales say he is exactly the same, though. I would say that he is strengthening and still maturing physically.
“As for the ground at York, he can handle soft, as we saw at Ascot and Sandown, and if it is sound underfoot, it would not worry him either. Being by Kitten’s Joy, he would probably appreciate a sounder surface, anyway. He stepped up again from Ascot to Sandown, and with The Gurkha (second in the Coral-Eclipse) coming out and winning the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, the form is very solid.”
The day one highlight of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, next Wednesday’s Juddmonte has attracted 14 runners for the 10-furlong race which will carry a record prize fund of £900,000.
As well as Postponed who missed last month’s King George defence because of a slight setback, trainer Roger Varian has also left stablemate King Bolete in the mix. Aidan O’Brien can chose from King George winner Highland Reel, Derby runner-up US Army Ranger and Sir Isaac Newton while Kevin Ryan’s The Grey Gatsby, placed in the last two renewals, bids to become the first Yorkshire-trained winner of the Juddmonte.
As for the aforementioned Buick, the win on Hawkbill was his last success before a month-long ban for falling foul of the French racing authorities and losing his cool in the stewards room.
The Northern racing College graduate returned to the saddle lastweek and is now gearing up for big race rides on both sides of the Atlantic this weekend.
Before York, Buick is looking forward to a massive weekend which will see him take in big races in North America and Europe.
He rides the Appleby-trained Tryster in the Arlington Million in Chicago tomorrow night before partnering Ribchester in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville on Sunday for Malton trainer Richard Fahey.
Buick is looking forward to being reunited with Ribchester after missing the horse’s third place finish to The Gurkha in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood because of his ban. “It was a great run in the Sussex. He stepped up on everything he had done and he’s obviously improved,” he said.
ROYAL Ascot winner Across The Stars heads 11 confirmations for the Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes at York on Wednesday.
Sir Michael Stoute’s colt bounced back from finishing down the field in the Investec Derby to win the King Edward VII Stakes. Aidan O’Brien has a potentially strong challenge, headed by Idaho, who was placed at Epsom as well as in the Irish Derby. Cook Islands, Housesofparliament, Kellstorm, The Major General and Unicorn could all still represent Ballydoyle.
IN-FORM filly Silver Rainbow will be supplemented for the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York next Friday.
The four-year-old daughter of Starspangledbanner will arrive in Yorkshire on a four-timer. Trained by Charlie Hills, connections have taken the decision to stump up the supplementary fee of £30,000 for the filly, who is in foal to Cable Bay.
LEOPARDSTOWN’S Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes next month is one of the possible targets for Yorlshire’s dual Group One winner Amazing Maria.
Trainer David O’Meara is exploring several Group One options for the Sir Robert Ogden-owned five-year-old, who could finish only sixth to Qemah in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville after winning the race in 2015.
She could now go to Ireland on September 10 for the Matron in which she was seventh to Legatissimo in 2015.