Walker looking forward to locking horns with O'Brien in Classic

Trainer Ed Walker believes Stormy Antarctic should not be underestimated ahead of his bid for Qipco 2000 Guineas glory at Newmarket.

Aidan oBrien: Trainer has Minding and Ballydoyle among entries for 1000 Guineas.

A high-class juvenile last season, the three-year-old made a most impressive start to the new campaign when claiming the scalp of Foundation in last week’s Craven Stakes over the Rowley Mile.

Aidan O’Brien’s dual Group One winner Air Force Blue is odds-on across the board for the season’s first Classic on Saturday week, but Walker is looking forward to taking him on.

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He said: “Stormy Antarctic looks fantastic and has tightened up for last week’s run in the Craven. He has come out of it extremely well.

“On form, he was entitled to win it as he had a higher official rating than Foundation, but I would be lying if I said that I thought that he would win it like that, coming from so far back when nothing had come from off the pace all day. It was a hell of a performance.

“A lot of people are saying that he is a mudlark but I disagree. Much of his form has come on soft ground but that’s just been the way that it’s turned out, we haven’t gone looking for it – he moves like a fast ground horse and is by an American stallion.”

Trainer Brian Meehan expects Blue Bayou to be in A1 condition when she goes for Classic glory in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1.

The daughter of Bahamian Bounty, one of 24 fillies standing their ground following at the acceptance stage, was a leading juvenile last term.

She only lost out in a three-way photo-finish in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes and went on to capture the Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket, after which she fifth in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh on her final start.

“Blue Bayou has done very well over the winter and the 1000 Guineas is her target,” said Meehan.

“It was a bit of a shame that she had to miss her run at Newbury last week but I am not that unhappy about it as she isn’t difficult to get fit – in fact she’s straightforward in every way.”

All the leading candidates remain engaged, including runaway Fillies’ Mile winner Minding and her Aidan O’Brien-trained stablemate Ballydoyle, winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac ay Longchamp in October.

O’Brien is responsible for half of the six potential Irish runners, while Come Alive, Antonoe and Midweek could represent France.

The top British contenders are Cheveley Park Stakes heroine Lumiere, Nell Gwyn scorer Nathra and Duchess of Cambridge Stakes winner Illuminate.

Star American mare Tepin could grace Royal Ascot as she has been given an entry in the first race of the five-day extravaganza, the Queen Anne Stakes.

Trained by Mark Casse, the five-year-old comfortably defeated several European raiders, including fellow Queen Anne possible Mondialiste, trained by David O’Meara, and Andre Fabre’s Esoterique in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland in October.

The Bernstein mare is unbeaten in three starts this year and was last seen out when gaining an impressive five-length victory in the Grade One Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland earlier this month.

“All is good with Tepin. The plan is to run her around the first Saturday in May here in America and then we will make a decision about Royal Ascot after that,” said Casse. “We feel that is good timing with Ascot in mind. She continues to amaze me.”

Tepin could be joined at Royal Ascot by fellow female star miler, last week’s Grade One Makers Mark Mile winner, Miss Temple City.

Based with Graham Motion, she was fourth in last year’s Coronation Stakes and is being geared toward the Group Two Duke of Cambridge Stakes, which closes next week.

There are a record 164 overseas entries from eight countries for the eight Group One races at Royal Ascot next month, including 35 from outside Europe.

The Queen will present the trophy to the winner of this year’s Derby on June 4.