Belardo: has resumed progression this season
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
BELARDO is pushing Tepin for favouritism in the Queen Anne Stakes with trainer Roger Varian confident the four-year-old is “coming to his prime” at the right time to produce a blockbuster effort in the opening race of Royal Ascot.
With the going at Ascot described as “not far off soft all over” by clerk of the course Chris Stickels on Sunday afternoon, punters were keen to side with proven soft-ground performer Belardo, who was cut to 9-2 (from 6) behind 4-1 favourite Tepin.
Owned by Godolphin and Prince Faisal, Belardo produced his best performance since winning the Dewhurst Stakes in 2014 when capturing the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge at Newbury last month.
That was a second victory in three starts for Belardo this season and continued a progressive profile for the four-year-old, who had lost his form last spring before bouncing back to be placed at Group 2 and Group 1 level on his final two starts last year.
No worries over ground
“He’s in terrific form and I couldn’t have been happier with him since his Lockinge win,” Varian said. “He handles soft ground well, so we have no worries about what the weather does and what the conditions will be.
“He’s stronger now and he’s taking his racing very well. I think that will allow him to bring the level of consistency to his game that he lacked last year. He’s been prepared well for the race and he’s done well in his career so far, but to me it looks like he’s now coming to his prime.”
Showers forecast every day
After walking the course on Sunday afternoon, clerk of the course Chris Stickels said: “We had 4mm of rain yesterday and 3mm more this morning. I haven’t changed the ground but it isn’t far off soft all over. We’re forecast sunshine and showers every day now, so there’s not much room for improvement if that’s right.
“The ground is good to soft on the straight course and soft in places on the round course and it wouldn’t take a lot more rain to make it soft on both courses.”
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