Circle Of Fire still holding King Edward VII as an option

Royal runner Circle Of Fire will be considered for both the Queen’s Vase and the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot next week.

There could be as many as eight horses carrying the famous purple and scarlet colours of the King and Queen at the five-day meeting, although connections are still weighing up the options for a couple of them.

Among those is the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Circle Of Fire, an unexposed three-year-old who finished third in the Lingfield Derby Trial on the second run of his Classic campaign.

The Almanzor colt holds entries in a pair of Group Two contests, Wednesday’s Queen’s Vase over a mile and three-quarters and Friday’s King Edward VII Stakes over a mile and a half.

The King and Queen’s racing and bloodstock adviser, John Warren, said: “We are going to look at the King Edward VII for Circle Of Fire, just because Sir Michael Stoute holds him in high regard. We think he is a stamina horse.

“He has just been a big, physical improver, so we think he is one of those horses, typically trained by Sir Michael, that has potentially got some improvement in him. He prefers to bring them along very quietly and nicely.

“He is a galloper and there is a great temptation to go for the Queen’s Vase, but before the commitment is made, we are just going to look at the Edward VII and get our heads around it.

“Hopefully, he is a horse on the up, as it were. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him. We hope he has a bright future.”

The rare prospect of two royal runners in the same race could occur, with Market Value also entered in the Queen’s Vase.

Trained by William Haggas, the daughter of Siyouni is out of Estimate, the mare who made history by becoming the first to win the Ascot Gold Cup for a reigning monarch, when famously obliging for the late Queen a decade ago.

“We have made an entry for Market Value in the Queen’s Vase,” said Warren. “She is the daughter of Estimate, but she is more of a free-going type. She is a filly who is only just coming to hand now.

“She is totally unexposed and she is only rated 82, so you could argue that on face value, she shouldn’t be qualified for anything at the moment. She is only on the up and learning her trade. She is a filly with plenty to come, we hope.”

Market Value has only had three outings in her career. Yet she has improved on each occasion and on her second run this term, the three-year-old relished the step up to 10 furlongs in romping to a three-and-a-half-length success in a fillies’ maiden at Ripon.

“The further she went, the more she looked like she was liking it,” Warren added. “If she wasn’t such a free-going sort, you’d have to feel confident she’d stay a mile and three-quarters, being a daughter of a Gold Cup winner and Siyouni, who is well capable of getting something to stay. That will be the caveat.

“This is the only real race for her and we are going to take it to the wire and see if she does get in.

“If William Haggas is happy with her on the morning of declarations, which at the moment he is, as she worked nicely on Thursday morning with an older filly, he’s confident she will run a nice race.

“She’ll take her chance if she can get in and if he’s happy running to the wire.

“So, we have potentially two for the Vase. There was a back-up plan for her to run somewhere else on Saturday if she doesn’t get in.

“It will be very interesting. She is on very good form, so wherever she goes, she’s going to run a nice race, but that’s the caveat, whether she will really stay if she is able. If she runs, she will almost certainly be ridden by Tom Marquand.”

Desert Hero, also trained by Haggas, will will head to the King George V Handicap on Thursday, on the back of being a beaten favourite in the London Gold Cup on his seasonal bow at Newbury last month.

“I think we think he wants a mile and a half,” said Warren. “He is by Sea The Stars and I think this race will suit him very nicely.

“He has the right profile for the race. I’d be hopeful he will run a nice race and I think Tom Marquand will ride, if he can do the weight.”

The John and Thady Gosden-trained pair Saga and Reach For The Moon will respectively run in the Wolferton Stakes on Tuesday and Royal Hunt Cup on Wednesday, with Frankie Dettori aboard.

There will also be a chance for young jockey and 3lb claimer Harry Davies, who comes in for the ride on the Andrew Balding-trained King’s Lynn in the Wokingham on Saturday. The six-year-old was seventh in the King’s Stand in both 2021 and 2022.

“Andrew is really happy with where he is,” said Warren. “He has run some very nice races at Ascot without getting right on top of them, but nothing would surprise us.

“It’s a handicap – anything can happen in a handicap. The horse is on good form, he likes the track well. He’s got lots of things going for him and a 3lb claimer might help.”

Educator represents Haggas in Friday’s Duke of Edinburgh Handicap over 12 furlongs.

Warren said: “He is in the Copper Horse, but we don’t really want to experiment over a mile and six furlongs, so if he can get into the Duke of Edinburgh that would be his race. Gelding has definitely helped him.

“He has been threatening for some time and his last race proved he does stay a mile and a half. I think he has grown up a lot now and I think he is a nice prospect, a lovely sound horse, who is just coming of age now.”

Candle Of Hope completes the royal team and goes over a mile in the Sandringham on Friday.

Her trainer Richard Hughes said: “She won her maiden at Newbury and then was Listed-placed when third in the Denford there. Then she was unlucky at Lingfield at the start of the year in the Listed Spring Cup.

“We go there claiming three pounds off a mark of 91. She might be competitive, although a stiff mile might catch her out.

“I’m very honoured to be training for the King. I’m the first Irishman to train for him, which makes me very proud.”

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