American favourite Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome who has been lodging with Newmarket trainer Rae Guest since April faces a tough task in Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot according to his connections.
His trainer Art Sherman and part owner Steve Coburn were on hand as the chestnut enjoyed a routine spin on Newmarket’s Watered Gallop this morning in the hands of big-race rider William Buick finishing comfortably clear of a lead horse.
But speaking later at a press conference at the Jockey Club today his trainer Art Sherman admitted: “It’s going to be tough, if he can hit the board I think I would be delighted.”
The four-year-old colt, who has already won 6.5 million dollars in prize money for his connections, may have only had one career start on turf, but it was winning one in the nine furlong Hollywood Derby at Del Mar in California last November.
His stetson wearing part owner, Steve Coburn, who was also at today’s press conference, admitted he had been reluctant to bring the horse to the Royal meeting after his second in the Dubai World Cup. “The horse was really tired after Dubai,” he said but added: “He has never let me down, even on his worst day. He will give every ounce of his heart and we just hope he comes back sound. He has a gang of followers who call themselves Chromies, some of whom will be at Ascot. I understand the Queen is a Chromie.”
His rivals in the Group 1 mile and a quarter contest include another highly respected foreign invader in Australian Derby winner Criterion who has been billeted at the Clarehaven stables of Derby winning trainer John Gosden.
Speaking today trainer David Hayes, who will be saddling his first Royal Ascot runner, was bullish about his chances: “I always thought if I had a horse good enough I would want to take the English on at their own game,” he said. “I know this is going to be a lot tougher than anything he has done before but I am confident he will run competitively.”
Other Australian challengers whose connections were talking in Newmarket today include the six-year-old mare Shamal Wind who has a big chance in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes made better by the booking of top jockey Ryan Moore. The Dubawi mare comes to the Royal meeting on the back of a career best performance when landing the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate over five and a half furlongs at Caulfield after coming with a withering late run.
Brazen Beau, who runs in the colours of On Track Thoroughbreds, was bought in December by Sheikh Mohmammed’s Darley operation to stand as a stallion in Australia. He has entries in both the King’s Stand and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, run on Saturday June 20, for which he is 3-1 market leader and which connections appear to be favouring.
Grant Morgan, representing connections, said: “Brazen Beau has settled in well since coming to Newmarket last week and breezed well this morning. We have been well looked after by Sheikh Mohammed and his team and I’m sure trainer Chris Waller will be pleased with the horse when he arrives this afternoon.”
Meanwhile Hong Kong-trained Able Friend, who has been lodging at Michael Bell’s Fitzroy House stables, remains on course for a crack at Tuesday’s Queen Anne Stakes, where his rivals will include French star Solow and last year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner Night of Thunder.