William Buick has been booked to ride a pair of George Boughey’s top two-year-olds at Royal Ascot next week.
The Newmarket handler is “delighted” the champion jockey will partner Asadna in the Coventry Stakes and Soprano in the Albany Stakes, both of whom are at the forefront of the market for the respective races.
Both worked nicely on the watered Rowley Mile gallop on Tuesday, as the Classic-winning trainer put the finishing touches to his preparations for the five-day meeting, where he is expected to have approximately 20 runners.
“The two-year-olds will probably be leading the charge,” said Boughey. “They are the shortest prices, so I’m not telling anyone anything new.”
Asadna is vying for favouritism with River Tiber for Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes on the back of a scintillating 12-length debut success at Ripon under Buick.
He worked well in a recent racecourse gallop and appears to have thrived since.
“Asadna was very good at Chelmsford in a piece of work the other day. Oisin Murphy rode him there and William rode him this morning and was very happy,” said Boughey.
“He looked very good this morning. He has a super attitude. I think we will watch him walk round the paddock ahead of the Coventry like he is here in the paddock. He would go there with a good chance.”
He went on: “He has just got an amazing temperament. He doesn’t sweat, he doesn’t do anything wrong. He’s a very sound horse. He just loves his work. He is not ‘showy’ in the morning, but when he went to Chelmsford the other day, he worked like a good horse.”
Buick added: “He did it nicely. It was nice ground on the watered gallop and I was very happy with him.
“He did everything I asked of him and his prep for Ascot has gone very well. Today was a good bit of work for him, but he seemed pretty smooth and he was his usual self. He was very impressive when he won and he has very good credentials. I’m looking forward to him.”
Highclere-owned filly Soprano landed a hot five-furlong maiden at Newmarket and had that form franked when runner-up Midnight Affair took the Hilary Needler at Beverley on Saturday.
Partnered by Connor Planas, she worked upsides Asadna and looked on good terms with herself ahead of Friday week’s Albany bid, for which she is currently a general 4-1 second-favourite behind Jabaara.
“They worked well. It was good work together,” said Boughey.
“Soprano was very good at Newmarket. She goes there with a good chance.
“William will ride Asadna as it doesn’t look like Charlie (Appleby) has got anything for the race. William will also ride Soprano in the Albany, which we are delighted about. He has won on both of them.
“William has ridden most of ours for a while now. It is great to have him on the big day, because usually he has to get off, so we are lucky to have him.”
Graceful Thunder, who took a five-furlong Sandown novice on debut, will head to the Queen Mary, following a decent piece of work under Kevin Stott, while Boughey’s juvenile team is completed by Muqtahem, who showed promise on debut before scoring at the second attempt at Pontefract. He breezed nicely under Pat Cosgrave and heads to the Windsor Castle.
“The two-year-olds are still learning,” added Boughey. “We worked six, four of them who will go to Ascot.
“I didn’t find anything out, necessarily. They are just teaching each other as they go along. Asadna, Soprano, Muqtahem, Graceful Thunder, they are all going to their respective races and it was all pretty straightforward work, but they all pleased me.”
The 30-year-old struck twice at the Royal meeting last year, with Missed The Cut taking the Golden Gates Handicap and Inver Park scoring in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.
Boughey admits he faces higher expectations now. “I’d bite your hand off for winner at Royal Ascot,” he added.
“I never thought that I would be a Royal Ascot-winning trainer.
“Since we had two last year, now we have to try to find another one this year – and it is very, very hard.
“We have got a strong team going there, but no one realises quite how hard it is. You need the draw right, you need the ground right. It has been quick ground for the last three weeks and it might go and be soft ground, and all our quick ground horses are kaput and you only have two bullets to fire who want soft ground.
“There is a lot of water to go under the bridge, but I’m very happy with how they are at the moment.
“If one goes in, there will be a big party, anyway.”