Consistent Alpha Delphini gives trainer Bryan Smart reasons to be cheerful ahead of Royal Ascot

HAMBLETON trainer Bryan Smart is looking forward to Royal Ascot with Alpha Delphini following his fine return to action when second to Battaash in the Temple Stakes at Haydock.

Nunthorpe Stakes hero Alpha Delphini is on track for Royal Ascot, says trainer Bryan Smart.

Despite winning last year’s Nunthorpe Stakes at York’s Ebor festival, Graham Lee’s mount was sent off at 20-1 in a red-hot renewal of the Group Two feature – but yet again outran his odds with another consistent display. Adding further substance to the form was Nunthorpe runner-up Mabs Cross in third.

“I was absolutely delighted with him for a first run of the season,” said Smart. “Battaash is a very good horse, there’s no doubt about that, he beat us on Saturday on a track he loves, and we beat him at York, so we’ll meet him again, there’s no doubt.

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“He won the Nunthorpe fair and square – it’s hard enough to win any race, never mind a Group One. He proved on Saturday yet again there is very little between him and Mabs Cross. When he went to France (Prix de l’Abbaye) it was one race too many and he didn’t travel well.

“He’s so consistent, take France out when he had excuses and it is the best part of two years since he finished out of the first three.”

Alpha Delphini is now set to take on Battaash and Mabs Cross once more in the King’s Stand Stakes on the opening day of the Royal meeting.

Smart added: “He’s come out of it really well, he looks happy and we’ll go to Royal Ascot with a good chance.

“If the same Battaash turns up then he’ll take a lot of beating, but we’ll improve for the run, as he always carries plenty of condition.

“The best thing about him is he’s got form on soft and fast ground, he just wouldn’t want it rattling fast, as he’s a big horse. But he’s a gent and tries his hardest.”

Meanwhile, Eric Alston is optimistic Boudica Bay will remain on an upward trajectory when she runs at Beverley today.

The four-year-old, who won at Musselburgh on May 13, lines up in a five furlong sprint handicap.

Preston-based Alston said: “This is a good race for her and I’m really looking forward to it. Everything has gone really well since Musselburgh and she’s fresh and ready to go.

“Rachel Richardson is a great jockey – I like her a lot – and she gets on with the filly better than anyone. They make a good team and hopefully they can continue in a similar vein.”