01 June 2023

Westover targeting Epsom redemption in Coronation Cup showdown

01 June 2023

Westover found matters conspiring against him on his last visit to Epsom but has the chance to banish those memories when he lines up in a high-class edition of the Dahlbury Coronation Cup on Friday.

Ralph Beckett’s four-year-old was a rather unfortunate third in the Derby behind Desert Crown 12 months ago, seeing his passage blocked up the home straight and having gained compensation when winning the Irish equivalent impressively at the Curragh, will now bid to win a second Group One.

Kept in training by owners Juddmonte, the son of Frankel put up a fine performance on reappearance to chase home Japanese superstar Equinox in the Dubai Sheema Classic and is reported to be in good order ahead of his first appearance of the year on home turf.

“All has been good, he’s in great nick. He worked nicely on Saturday and the ground is good for him, everything has gone well, Ralph and his team are very happy,” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager for Juddmonte.

“It was a big run in Dubai, he likes good ground, we know that now. He’s a big horse with a knee action and we thought he’d go on softer ground, but I think the Arc showed us he can go on it fine but he’s better on fast ground, so hopefully we get that and he can run a big race.”

John and Thady’s Gosden Emily Upjohn will also look to correct the Epsom record having been thwarted by a short head in the Oaks a year ago.

Her quest for Classic glory took a further hit when transport issues ruled her out of the Irish Oaks, but she broke her top-level duck at Ascot in October when leaving an underwhelming display in the King George behind her to claim the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes in real style.

She makes her seasonal bow here, with Gosden senior saying in relation to her delayed reappearance: “We had a look at Dubai and it was too soon for her. We had this February and it was sort of spring like, it fooled all of us and the fillies and then along came a cold and wet March and April and a lot of the fillies just went back into themselves.

“A lot of the colts did similar and then we’ve had a lot of testing and heavy ground, so I think it’s been a bit of a muddling first part of the season with a combination of the two. To that extent she was very much taking her time, but she seems to be coming to herself now.”

Frankie Dettori rides and said: “We know she handled Epsom because she strutted her stuff in the Oaks and I’m looking forward to riding her.

“She had a bit of a blip last year after the King George, but she came back strong and I’m looking forward to it.”

In contrast, Point Lonsdale has already been seen twice this term and will now try a mile and a half for a first time as he bids to add to his winning sequence.

A smart juvenile, the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt was seen only once last season due to a setback, but is unbeaten since his return this year, following up a game success in the Alleged Stakes by claiming the Huxley Stakes at Chester.

“It’s going to be interesting and we’re interested to see what will happen over a mile and a half,” said O’Brien.

“He’s always looked like a horse crying out for this trip. We kept him at seven as a two-year-old because at the time he was our best one over seven, but he always looked like he wanted a mile at two.

“He then ran in the Guineas and got injured and started back at the Curragh this year on very soft ground, so we didn’t know what would happen there because he’s a very good mover.

“He won well that day, looking like he’d get further. After that we were thinking of this race, so to try to get him as sharp as we could, we felt the best way to do that was Chester. It was a little bit sharp but it all went well. It’s going to be interesting.

“It’s a very good race, five very good horses and that is how you want every race. Win, lose or draw, you want the best horse horses in the best races and you can learn about your own horses going forward, that’s what we all want.

“You never mind getting beat if a better horse beats you and this is how you find out how good your own horse is.”

Also back to what looks his best following an absence is Charlie Appleby’s Hurricane Lane, who was third in the Derby during his Classic season before going on to win the Irish Derby, the Grand Prix de Paris and the St Leger.

The five-year-old disappointed in both starts last term and having also failed to sparkle in the John Porter at Newbury in April, many feared his career at the top-level may be over. But he showed all the qualities of old when a six-length winner of the Jockey Club Stakes last month to the delight of his Moulton Paddocks handler.

Appleby told Godolphin’s website: “He showed a return to form last time, which we were delighted to see. It had been a little bit of a bumpy road prior to Newmarket. At Newbury previously, he was ring rusty and conditions took their toll in the end.

“From that run to his second run, we saw marked improvement in his physical presence and his alertness. He got his racing brain back engaged. With those good older horses, it often takes a run to get them back in the game again. I have been delighted with him since that run and I’d say he has improved again. He’s tighter, and sharper mentally. He’s got plenty going for him.”

The select field of five is rounded off by intriguing German raider Tunnes, who not only is a half-brother to Arc hero Torquator Tasso but also claimed the German St Leger and the Group One Grosser Preis von Bayern in 2022.

He’s taking on better horses now than at home of course, but I think he’s good enough

His trainer Peter Schiergen is no stranger to success on the biggest stages, winning the Coronation Cup in 2002 with Boreal and the 2011 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Danedream, who landed the King George the following year.

He is excited for his latest raid, in a race that forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series.

“I have a good feeling about the long journey to England. I’m very optimistic,” he said.

“He’s taking on better horses now than at home of course, but I think he’s good enough. I think he has the same class as Boreal and Danedream. He’s better on soft ground, but he acts on any going and good ground will be fine for him.”

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