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Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP
Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP

All roads lead to Royal Ascot in 13 days when the latest equine star, already being compared to the mighty Frankel, will attempt to maintain his 100% record by winning the Queen Anne Stakes.

The horse’s name is Baaeed, an inmate of the powerful William Haggas stable. After his win in the grade 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, he is Timeform’s highest-rated horse in training. They have raised his figure to 134 from 130.

According to Timeform’s John Ingles, Baaeed is the best Lockinge winner since Frankel 10 years ago and a rating of 134 puts him on a par with Kingman and a pound ahead of Canford Cliffs and Excelebration among recent top-notch milers. However, it is worth remembering the latter was thumped five lengths by Frankel in the Lockinge.

Baaeed was the best horse to return to action recently but 24 hours before his win all the attention had been on another son of Sea The Stars, Stradivarius (remains 123), making a successful reappearance in the Yorkshire Cup.

Back for a final season at the age of eight, Stradivarius might not be quite the same horse he was when winning two editions of the race earlier in his career but he was still more than good enough to concede weight to four at least smart rivals and seems sure to make a bold bid to win a fourth Gold Cup next month.

Search For A Song finished only fourth as favourite for the Yorkshire Cup but later the same day her younger brother Kyprios (122 from 119) romped into the Gold Cup picture by winning the newly promoted Group 3 Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown by 14 lengths after making all the running.

Kyprios had finished fourth in last year’s Derby Trial at Lingfield and the third from that race, Scope (125 from 121), who also holds a Gold Cup entry, ran a fine race on his return under a Group 1 penalty in the Aston Park Stakes at Newbury in going down by a neck to Ilaraab (119 from 115).

Exciting prospect

If the bookmakers are right, both the Derby and Oaks winners were in action at the recent Dante meeting at York. Desert Crown (121p from 106p) ensured Leopardstown winner Stone Age had only a brief spell as Derby favourite after running out a decisive winner by three-and-a-quarter lengths of the Dante on just his second start from the lot more experienced Royal Patronage (112 from 110) and Stone Age’s stablemate Bluegrass (107 from 102).

That form looks well up to standard in what was a fairly run race and, having given Sir Michael Stoute a record-equalling seventh Dante success, Desert Crown looks a most exciting prospect for the rest of the season given how little racing he’s had so far.

Emily Upjohn (113p from 102p) had even more to spare — five-and-a-half lengths — in winning the Musidora Stakes, taking her own record to three out of three.

John & Thady Gosden could have another Oaks contender — though the Prix de Diane is an alternative if they wish to keep them apart — after Nashwa (111pP from 94P) made it two impressive wins for the year in the fillies’ listed race at Newbury on Saturday. She retains her “large P” symbol, indicating scope for a lot more improvement, and will be interesting in whichever classic she goes for next, not short of speed but equally being bred to stay further as a Frankel half-sister to a mile-and-a-half winner.

Back at York, one of the most improved performances at the meeting came in the 1895 Duke of York Stakes, which was won by John Quinn’s likable mare Highfield Princess (122 from 109) who, with everything falling perfectly for her, returned a clear career-best in quickening away from Spycatcher (116 from 115) in a very good time compared with the preceding handicap, though whether she can reproduce that effort in the Platinum Jubilee must be open to doubt.

Smart performances

In what was something of an unsatisfactory Middleton Stakes at York for older fillies and mares, Lilac Road (117 from 112) nonetheless responded willingly to come from behind in a steadily run race to get the better of the pacesetting Aristia (109 from 108) by half a length and was value for a fair bit more than the bare winning margin in the circumstances.

With the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in mind there were some smart sprinting performances from three-year-olds in recent weeks.

Best of those was Twilight Jet (116 from 110) who had a busy two-year-old campaign for Michael O’Callaghan, winning the Cornwallis Stakes, but looked better than before when making all for a three-length win in the Lacken Stakes on his return at Naas. He could meet the first two from Newbury’s listed Carnavon Stakes in which Tiber Flow (remains 111p) didn’t have to improve on his turf debut to hold on from the keeping-on Ehraz (109 from 100+) by a short head.

Only a short-head defeat away from being unbeaten in five starts, Tiber Flow remains open to improvement. Last Crusader (111 from 100) showed plenty of improvement to win York’s listed Westow Stakes on his first try at five furlongs but was strong at the finish after making all and should be just as effective back at six.

Longchamp staged France’s equivalent of the Guineas though it took no better than smart efforts to win both races. The colts ran the faster time in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains in which Modern Games just had to match his 115 rating from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf to make a successful reappearance.

That’s some way short of the figures his Godolphin stablemates Coroebus and Native Trail ran to at Newmarket but he’s on a different path to that pair, due to step out next in the Prix du Jockey Club in France.

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