Bobby Zen

If you believe that Kyprios (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is the best stayer to emerge from Ballydoyle since Yeats (Ire), then it could be said that all those that lined up for last year’s G1 Gold Cup in his absence were granted a stay of execution. Back to Royal Ascot on Thursday with his severe injury woes behind him, the latest sakura from the ever-flourishing branch of one of Moyglare’s great trees is one of the week’s major stories. Aidan O’Brien described ahead of last year’s G1 Irish St Leger bid that it was touch and go whether he would return and that he “had to be taught to walk, trot and canter again” lending him that warrior-like aura.

Being able to battle is key in this race, which has taken so many class horses trying to stretch out to the two-and-a-half miles deep into the red, but Kyprios’s 2022 performance was not about slogging it out. Showing surprising speed to see off Mojo Star and Stradivarius, he produced the fastest finish to a Gold Cup and was just a tick off the previous day’s Coventry winner over the final two furlongs and virtually as quick as the Queen Anne hero Baaeed in his final furlong.

Able to race just four times since his scarcely-believable 20-length romp going diagonally up ParisLongchamp’s straight in the 2022 G1 Prix du Cadran, the chestnut leaves us guessing as to whether he can hit these heights again. His workmanlike win in Leopardstown’s G3 Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes last month was uninspiring, but Yeats ran like a has-been in the 2009 Vintage Crop before coming back here to ensure immortality.

“He’s an unbelievable horse and to have him back to this pitch, we’re delighted really,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think there is any worries about the ground and I always thought he wanted nice ground, he’s a very good mover.”


Can Wathnan Do It Again?

While Kyprios was away, Courage Mon Ami (GB) (Frankel {GB}) struck for Wathnan Racing and while he is taking his turn to miss the party this time, John and Thady Gosden still have a live chance in those silks in last year’s G2 Queen’s Vase winner Gregory (GB) (Golden Horn {GB}). He may not have excelled subsequently, having finished a well-beaten third in the St Leger, but his latest effort when third in the G2 Yorkshire Cup screamed Gold Cup.

The Gosdens also have Godolphin’s G2 British Champions Long Distance Cup winner Trawlerman (Ire) (Golden Horn {GB}) and Normandie Stud’s G3 Henry II S. scorer Sweet William (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), but Gregory seems to be the one with group 1 pretensions. “It won’t be easy beating Kyprios, who is really solid and looks very straightforward, but I’m really looking forward to him,” James Doyle said. “Obviously he’s never run over this far before, so we can’t be sure he’ll stay, but he’s from a very good family of stayers and all of the signs are positive. His run in the Yorkshire Cup was very good, and he relaxes really well, which I think is vital in the Gold Cup. The way he hit the line was really good and I wasn’t hard on him as John had said the run was very much to be sure he was primed for the Gold Cup.”

Richard Brown, racing adviser to Wathnan, added, “It was amazing for Wathnan to win this race last year in what was really their first few weeks of ownership and it’s amazing to be going back with a colt with another chance. It’s a very tough race and Kyprios is a worthy favourite, but there’s others in there to worry about as well. Hopefully he can be a good substitute for Courage Mon Ami. I think he will stay but you never know until you run them over those extreme distances.”


Welcome Rain?

Royal Ascot is, for once, blessed with dry conditions and the only wet reference on Thursday could come via Godolphin’s exciting Listed Haras de Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes winner Diamond Rain (GB) (Shamardal) in the G2 Ribblesdale S. Having won over a mile here on debut before beating the highly-regarded subsequent winner Ejaabiyah (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in that 10-furlong Newbury Oaks prep, the daughter of Dancing Rain (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) looks one of the country’s most promising middle-distance fillies for the season ahead.

“Diamond Rain is two from two and brings some experience of Ascot into the race, while we feel that the step up to a mile and a half is going to suit,” trainer Charlie Appleby said. “She improved from her first to second run and looks to have progressed again since. It’s always a competitive contest, but she heads into it in great shape.”

Juddmonte’s Kalpana (GB) (Study Of Man {Ire}) had the bad fortune to run into a high-class rival in Friendly Soul (GB) (Kingman {GB}) when second in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket last month and that peer’s subsequent flop in the Musidora was too bad to be true. Kalpana’s 10-length defeat of a subsequent winner over the same track and 10-furlong trip in April stands up and this mile-and-a-half trip should help being a relative of the G1 Grand Prix de Paris hero Zambezi Sun (GB) (Dansili {GB}).

“Andrew [Balding] was keen to give her a break after Newmarket, which was fair as she has been on the go since the beginning of the year racing on the all-weather,” Juddmonte’s racing manager Barry Mahon explained. “She’s had a nice little break and is training nicely and we were half tempted to supplement for the Oaks, but we just felt that freshening her up and heading into Ascot after a break was the right thing to do. She will definitely enjoy the step up to a mile and a half and she is one you would really be looking forward to this week. We’ve a nice bunch of horses, but she is one you can definitely get excited about.”


A Fine Art…

Aidan O’Brien doesn’t seem to overly press his 2-year-olds ahead of this meeting, but the good ones invariably win as was the case with Little Big Bear (Ire) (No Nay Never) in last year’s Listed Windsor Castle Stakes. Step forward his full-brother Whistlejacket (Ire) on Thursday as he bids to emulate his sibling in the G2 Norfolk Stakes and is expected to be heavily-backed to do so. He beat the re-opposing subsequent G3 Marble Hill Stakes winner Arizona Blaze (GB) (Sergei Prokofiev) in the Listed First Flier Stakes at The Curragh in a noteworthy time, giving Ryan Moore all the right vibes. “I was very impressed and, while you have to respect a fair few of these, I like to think I am on the best horse going into the race. He is a very exciting prospect,” he said.

Wathnan Racing took the Queen Mary on Wednesday and are here with another Karl Burke prospect in the Beverley debut winner Shareholder (Not This Time). He has been in a bit of a hurry to get here, but Wathnan’s racing adviser Richard Brown is aware of the task in hand. “I said to Karl when we bought him, ‘I think the horse is very quick and ready to go and let’s see if we can give him a chance to get to Ascot, even though it’s a very quick turnaround,” he said. “Karl and his team have done a tremendous job with this horse and he has bounced out of Beverley and done very well since. He’s eating up and drinking and had a very easy breeze and looks full of himself. Everything went wrong at Beverley and he still managed to win and it’s the Norfolk, there will be plenty there with a similar profile, but I think he goes there with a realistic chance of running a good race for us.”


Opening Gambit…

Harry Charlton combined with father Roger to win the 2022 Britannia Handicap, but in his first season training on his own at Beckhampton Stables has a leading chance of a breakthrough moment via King’s Gambit (Ire) (Saxon Warrior {Jpn}) in Thursday’s G3 Hampton Court Stakes. Winning Newbury’s competitive London Gold Cup by four lengths, he joined the past Charlton-trained heavyweights Headman (GB) (Kingman {GB}), Time Test (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Al Kazeem (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) on the honour roll of one of Britain’s most significant handicaps which nearly always throws up future group winners.

“I was pretty hopeful he was going to win at Newbury, but as to the manner that he did it in, he was very impressive,” he said. “I think what we saw was a much more professional horse than we knew of last year on the track and he’s mentally growing up all the time. You’re getting a more complete package every time he races now, so it’s exciting and I think he’ll improve again.”

Whereas King’s Gambit is all about future group 1 potential, Wathnan Racing’s acquisition First Look (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) has already performed on one of Europe’s biggest stages when runner-up in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club. Richard Brown said of the French raider, “Andre Fabre is obviously a master of bringing these horses along and we are delighted and excited to have added him to the team. It’s quite a quick turnaround from Chantilly and we’re leaving it down to Andre–he is the master. He feels he has come out of the race quite well. Like a lot of the horses we have bought, they will go to Ascot and take their chance, but they haven’t just been bought for Ascot. They are horses for the future and beyond and a horse like him, there’s no reason he won’t be running with Andre as a five-year-old.”


Opera Singer Elmalka Coronation Clash Is On For Friday…

Wednesday saw the draw made for Friday’s two group 1 contests at Royal Ascot, with the 10 fillies set to contest the Coronation Stakes headed by Ballydoyle’s G1 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Opera Singer (Justify) and Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum’s 1,000 Guineas heroine Elmalka (GB) (Kingman {GB}). Opera Singer, who was returning from a setback when third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, has drawn an outside stall in nine for the mile feature while the Roger Varian-trained Newmarket Classic heroine is in seven. James Doyle takes over from Silvestre De Sousa on Elmalka, while Oisin Murphy will replace Aurelien Lemaitre on TDN Rising Star and Guineas third Ramatuelle (Justify). She is on the rail in one, while the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes winner and 1,000 Guineas runner-up Porta Fortuna (Ire) (Caravaggio) has also fared well in five.

The Aga Khan’s G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine Rouhiya (Fr) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) has a favourable draw in two, next to the other Ballydoyle representative Content (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), while the up-to-scratch field is completed by Godolphin’s unbeaten Devoted Queen (GB) (Kingman {GB}), Jeff Smith’s See The Fire (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), Juddmonte’s Skellet (Ire) (Kingman {GB}) and Scuderia Sagam’s Folgaria (Ire) (Due Diligence).

The other top-bracket highlight, the six-furlong Commonwealth Cup, sees a strong representation from Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum with Kevin Ryan’s emphatic G2 Sandy Lane Stakes winner Inisherin (GB) (Shamardal) joined by the Karl Burke-trained Listed Carnarvon Stakes scorer Elite Status (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}). Al Mohamediya Racing’s G3 Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes winner Jasour (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}) from the Clive Cox stable is another high-profile runner among the 15 contenders. They include Michelle Morris and Jan and Peter Hopper’s unbeaten TDN Rising Star Kind Of Blue (GB) (Blue Point {Ire}), interestingly thrown in at the deep end by the normally conservative James Fanshawe.

In the G3 Albany Stakes also over six, 17 juvenile fillies will line up including Ballydoyle’s G3 Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies Sprint S. winner Fairy Godmother (Ire) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}), Godolphin’s unbeaten TDN Rising Star Mountain Breeze (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), Sheikh Hamed Dalmook Al Maktoum’s TDN Rising Star Twafeeg (Ire) (Far Above {Ire}) and the Wesley Ward-trained Burning Pine (Nyquist). There are 14 colts in the G2 King Edward VII Stakes, with a quartet for Aidan O’Brien including TDN Rising Stars Agenda (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Diego Velazquez (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), alongside The Aga Khan’s dual group 3 winner Calandagan (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}).


The post Kyprios Back from the Brink for Cup Defence appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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