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Jessica has Brother Bear on the hunt for Ascot joy

 

By Robert Jones

Jessica Harrington will break new ground when Brother Bear lines up as the likely favourite for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot today.

Having enjoyed a tremendous National Hunt season with a plethora of big-race wins, headlined by Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the dual-purpose trainer is now eyeing a first Royal Ascot success.

"He travelled over well and all seems to be good," she said.

"He's drawn in the middle (stall eight), so we can't complain about that.

"I'm guessing the pace will come from the American horse (Arawak, stall 14).

"We're looking forward to it. We don't have many favourites at Cheltenham, so to have one at Royal Ascot is something completely different."

Arawak is one of a big team sent over by American trainer Wesley Ward, who has already secured seven previous Royal Ascot winners.

Ward said: "I think he is going to have a big chance. At home he has a longer stride and eventually he is going to be a miler.

"His Ascot work was much better than we saw at Keeneland. He took McErin (runner in Norfolk Stakes on Thursday) right down to the wire and I was really happy to see that.

"I think he's worthy to come over and he trains better on grass than dirt.

"I think he'll have a big chance."

De Bruyne Horse was an impressive winner of the Woodcote Stakes for Richard Hannon and owners Middleham Park Racing.

"You wouldn't swap him," Middleham Park's Tom Palin said.

"He's got the form, he's got the class, he's got the sire (Showcasing) and he ticks a lot of the stats."

Charlie Appleby saddles Aqabah and Zaman.

The Godolphin trainer said: "Aqabah won on his first start at Ascot, so he has course experience, and then he went to the Curragh and finished fourth but I wasn't disappointed because the ground went against us.

"He has an American pedigree and the soft going did not suit him.

"Zaman won on his only start at York last month and, as he was purchased at the breeze-up sales, he knew his job first time out and looks to have strengthened since."

The other juvenile race on the card is the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes in which Ward runs Elizabeth Darcy and Nootka Sound.

"They are both very fast and they are as fit as I can possibly get them," said Ward.

"Each of them have had just one start and one win and I'm looking for a couple of big races out of both."

Appleby runs another pair of winners in Sound And Silence and Roussel.

He said: "Sound And Silence broke his maiden on debut at Newmarket but then was a little disappointing when he was fourth in the National Stakes at Sandown and post-race showed a dirty scope.

"Roussel is another who came from the breeze-ups and has lots of natural pace, which he showed when winning on his only start at Leicester, as well as a bit of greenness.

"He has done well since and I couldn't be happier with him."

As ever, the Ascot Stakes sees the National Hunt trainers come out to play, with Thomas Hobson (Willie Mullins), Who Dares Wins (Alan King) and Beyond Conceit (Nicky Henderson) all strongly fancied.

Belfast Telegraph

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