Belgian Bill a former Royal Ascot winner and regular at the meeting is once again being targeted at the biggest meeting in flat racing for the 2016 season, in an attempt to regain his Royal Hunt Cup title.
The George Baker-trained eight-year-old won the 2013 running of the Royal Hunt Cup run over one-mile by three-quarters of a length at odds of 33-1, under the guidance of jockey James Doyle. Since then he has returned too Royal Ascot in 2014 and also run at the meeting in 2011 and 2012.
In recent months he has been racing all over the planet, finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Arlington Million in August and also running three times in Meydan. His last victory came in another top handicap as he won the Betfred Mile at Glorious Goodwood last July.
Royal Ascot once again in Belgian Bill’s sights
The handicapper now rates him just 2lb higher than that mark and Baker believes he still retains all of his past ability saying in the Racing Post: “I must admit I never thought I’d still be talking about ‘Bill’ at the age of eight as it seemed likely he would find a job at stud somewhere, but his enthusiasm and ability remain undiminished.
“He gave us one of our biggest wins when taking the Royal Hunt Cup in 2013 and last year he won at Meydan and was awarded the Betfred Mile at Glorious Goodwood after So Beloved was disqualified. This winter we have had him out in Dubai again and he ran a cracker last time when fifth to Tryster.”
After a really superb career which has seen Belgian Bill pick up £399,197 in prize money, he owes his connections absolutely nothing.
But Baker is hopeful he has one big race left in him for Royal Ascot in 2016 saying, “The plan now is to train him for another Hunt Cup and he could go straight there off his mark of 104, although if he did have one run beforehand it would be at the Lockinge meeting at Newbury in May.
“I know he has all of his old ability and I think he can be seriously competitive in the Hunt Cup again.”
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