Zonderland, the Clive Cox three-year-old is set to line-up in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot – Tuesday 14th June 2016.
The one-mile contest is the highlight of day one of the meeting and is set to feature the British 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold and Irish 2000 Guineas winner Awtaad. Now Cox will send his colt in search of Group 1 glory after he posted an impressive effort in the Heron Stakes at Sandown.
Under jockey Adam Kirby the Cheveley Park Stud owned horse found himself in a good position throughout the race and quickly put the listed contest to bed one-furlong from home to win by two-and-a-quarter-lengths.
After finishing sixth behind Galileo Gold in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, there is no doubt Zonderland will have to step up massively on his previous efforts, but connections feel the tougher test of Ascot Racecourse will play to his strengths.
Chris Richardson, Racing Manager Cheveley Park Stud, said: “He has run twice at Newmarket and he does not like going down the hill there.
“I think Sandown, with its stiff finish, suited him and ideally you would like to think Ascot would as well. He is a big horse that needed time, but you could not have asked him to have done it any more impressively at Sandown.”
Awtaad ready for Guineas rematch at Royal Ascot
Chris Haynes who will partner Irish 2000 Guineas Awtaad at Royal Ascot in seven days’ time has said his mount is ready for a rematch with Galileo Gold.
The Kevin Prendergast colt turned over the red-hot favourite at the Curragh and is on target for the rematch which will feature The Gurkha, a runaway winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.
The Gurkha currently heads the market for the St James’s Palace Stakes at 6-4 for the Aidan O’Brien stable. Awtaad is second-favourite at 7-2, with Galileo Gold a best price of 9-2.
Haynes said: “It will be fascinating to see which horse is best. I just hope we get genuine good ground so no one can have any excuses. I personally think my horse is best but I’m obviously going to think that.
“”I’ve sat on him a good bit since the Guineas and he seems to have improved. That’s shocked me. I didn’t think he would be able to improve that much.”
This race is shaping to be one of the best of the entire Royal Meeting.