CHARLIE APPLEBY says 2018 Epsom Derby hero Masar is the one to beat on day one of Newmarket’s prestigious July meeting.
The son of New Approach finished fifth on his first start since triumphing in the Epsom Classic when making his eagerly anticipated return to action in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
With that run under his belt, Appleby feels that Masar will take plenty of stopping in the mile-and-a-half Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes which the trainer won in 2017 with Hawkbill.
Masar runs in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation with jockey James Doyle once again deputising for William Buick, who is on the sidelines with after-effects concussion following a fall at Ascot in May as he cantered to the start.
Appleby said: “He has definitely come forward for his run at Ascot.
“As we all know at Ascot he didn’t make the tidiest of starts and he was never in the position we would have liked to see him in.
“He was as fit as we could get him without getting a run in but that run has definitely brought him forward and his preparation has gone well from Ascot to the Princess of Wales’s and he will be better with that run under his belt.
“He is moving well and his fitness is good. He is clear on ratings and if the Masar we are seeing at home turns up then they have him all to beat.”
Masar’s first run back in more than a year may have ended in defeat but it provided plenty of encouragement for Appleby that his stable star still retains all of his old ability.
He added: “When you are preparing a horse off a long lay off that has been running over a mile-and-a-half at the top level you can get them fit to a level at home but a race just puts the edge on them.”
The field includes Royal Ascot winner Baghdad, one of three runners for Middleham’s Mark Johnston, who also saddles Communique and Desert Encounter.
Johnston’s son and assistant, Charlie, said: “It’s a big step up in class. But with a rating of 109, he merits a go in Pattern company – and with it being a six-runner Group Two, we decided to let him take his chance. Baghdad has only run eight times for us, so who is to say he’s done improving yet?”