Karl Burke is eyeing an ambitious tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes with Royal Rhyme following his runaway victory in a Goodwood handicap last week.
An impressive winner at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting in the spring, the three-year-old subsequently disappointed in the London Gold Cup at Newbury.
However, back on more testing terrain on the Sussex Downs, the son of Lope De Vega blew his rivals away off a mark of 95 – and while Burke admits a step up to Group One level would be an altogether different proposition, he believes his charge can climb the ladder given suitable conditions.
“I wouldn’t say it was a surprise to see him win at Goodwood, maybe the manner in which he did it was, but he’s a horse I’ve always liked,” said the Spigot Lodge handler.
“He’s got a big engine, he just needs that ground and he’s been a bit of an immature horse with one or two training niggles through immaturity more than anything.
“He’s getting stronger and if he holds together he’s a very exciting horse for the future on soft ground.
“He’ll have an entry in the mile-and-a-quarter race on Champions Day. Sheikh Obaid (owner) was very keen to try him there. It’s a massive step up obviously, but that would be a target with one or two races on the way into that.”