25 April 2024

Macduff team expect Classic Trial test to suit

25 April 2024

Macduff bids to follow in the footsteps of Westover when he puts his Betfred Derby aspirations to the test at Sandown.

Trainer Ralph Beckett and owners Juddmonte joined forces when Westover won this race in 2022, with the son of Frankel going on to chase home Desert Crown at Epsom before gaining Derby compensation in Ireland.

With this race lost to the weather 12 months ago, the highly-regarded Macduff now has the chance to give connections back-to-back victories in the Group Three event after showing some smart form during his two-year-old season.

After opening his account at the first attempt on Newmarket’s July course, the Sea The Stars colt went on to finish second in the Listed Ascendant Stakes before also running with credit when fourth in the Royal Lodge and will now try 10 furlongs for the first time.

“He’s a horse who has done well from two to three and showed a nice level of form last year,” said Barry Mahon, Juddmonte’s European racing manager.

“We feel a step up in trip is going to suit and we’re looking forward to seeing him back on track and I suppose Friday will tell us what level we’re at and what trip he will want etc, we will learn more about him.

“I think Newmarket wouldn’t necessarily be his track and when you watch him, he hit the line strong in the Royal Lodge and looked to me like he is a horse who is going to need further.

“I think physically he was quite a weak two-year-old and last year it was always about just educating him enough to be streetwise for his three-year-old career. I think we did that with his three runs and he’s definitely a stronger horse this year.

“We would like to think he will show a bit more ability this year.”

William Haggas is another trainer to get his name on this race’s roll of honour recently and he looks for a repeat of Alenquer’s 2021 success with the smart son of Gleneagles, Remaadd.

He was last seen at Haydock finishing a place behind Macduff in the Ascendant Stakes and the Somerville Lodge handler hopes to learn plenty about his prospect on Friday afternoon.

Haggas said: “I like him. He’s got a bit to find but if the ground has got a bit of cut in it, that will suit him.

“He’s worked well, he will probably improve a bit but we need to find out where we are with him.

“There wasn’t much between him and Ralph’s horse (Macduff) at Haydock but I think the ground was a bit quick for him that day, it may have been too quick for Ralph’s as well.

“Obviously we’ve all got Arabian Crown to beat – he’s solid, he’s run some good races and beaten some pretty good horses, so I would think he’ll win and we’ll just see how close we can get to him.”

As referenced by Haggas, the hot favourite for the Classic Trial is Charlie Appleby’s Arabian Crown, a winner of three of his four starts last season and already proven over the 10-furlong distance having rounded off his juvenile campaign with a dominant display in Newmarket’s Zetland Stakes.

“Arabian Crown has track experience at Sandown, which is always handy, and we were pleased with his recent racecourse gallop at Newmarket,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“It’s the same situation with a lot of early three-year-olds, as we are trying to find out where the rest of the season lies. We will hopefully be a lot wiser afterwards as to whether he’s a Derby horse or not.”

Haggas’ sentiments regarding the Godolphin-owned market leader are echoed by leading jockey Ryan Moore, who rides Aidan O’Brien’s representative Portland.

He has a definite form chance

“Arabian Crown would be the obvious horse to beat here, but Portland was placed in Group One company at two and he looked to shape OK when second on his return to what could be a very smart filly (Purple Lily at Naas),” Moore told Betfair.

“He has a definite form chance, and he has the benefit of a run, and hopefully he will get the extra two furlongs.”

Owen Burrows is looking forward to running War Rooms, who was visually impressive on his Doncaster debut last summer before returning to Town Moor to place third in the Flying Scotsman Stakes.

“He’s done very well over the winter and he’s pleased us in his work in the spring. He’s got some nice entries, so we thought we’d have to be bold and stick him in one to see where he sits,” said the trainer.

“I’ve been pleased with him and he’s been working well. I think he’s been crying out for the trip, as he probably got slightly outpaced in the Listed race and then hit the line strong.

“He’s got entries in the English Derby and the French Derby and this will tell us where we stand.”

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