My Prospero is set to spearhead William Haggas’ Royal Ascot team in a mouthwatering edition of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
Despite the defection of Desert Crown, the likes of Luxembourg, Adayar and Bay Bridge still lie in wait for Haggas’ four-year-old.
Beaten just a neck in the St James’s Palace Stakes last year, he went on to win a Group Two in France over 10 furlongs before once again being narrowly denied in the Champion Stakes behind Bay Bridge.
He reappeared back over a mile in the Lockinge when running on into fourth, but Haggas expects the step back up to a mile and a quarter to be much more up his street.
“He’s very well and I think it will be a great race,” Haggas told Sky Sports Racing.
“Newbury was a bit short for him and he was a bit fresh, but he stayed on nicely at the end and I’m sure he will enjoy the step up in trip.
“He ran very well in the St James’s Palace and ran very well in the Champion Stakes having been off for a bit, I think it was a couple of months after his previous run.
“At the moment I couldn’t have him better and we’re looking forward to it. I think there’s a lot of horses similar to him in that they might not have an electric turn of foot but they have good staying ability and I should think they’ll kick on from three out.
“I think he’s a lovely, big horse and it was probably an error running in the Lockinge, but it didn’t do much harm and he stayed on well having been outpaced. I think he’s come forward for that and I think this is going to be his year.”
Another returning to Ascot following a good run 12 months ago is the mare Sacred, beaten just a length into fifth in the six-furlong Platinum Jubilee Stakes.
This year Haggas has given her a run prior to Ascot, over her preferred distance of seven furlongs at Lingfield where she won with ease.
“She’s a very good filly. One day at Newbury she was excellent and she was pretty good at Lingfield the other day,” he said.
“She’s a very smart filly with a pretty good turn of foot but the problem is she’s a specialist over seven, so we either go over a mile or six. The only seven-furlong Group One is the Foret and that is invariably on soft ground, so there’s nothing for her.
“We’re plumping for six again, she’s had a run this year which she hadn’t last year when she ran well. It’s a competitive race but I’m not sure there’s a standout. The Australian horse (Artorius) might be, while the Hong Kong horse (Wellington) is a proven top sprinter but she should run a good race.”
Khanjar had been a leading fancy for the Wokingham but was surprisingly beaten at Hamilton recently leaving Haggas to reassess his claims.
“I was pretty disappointed (with his Hamilton run). In his first run at York he was too enthusiastic, so me and Jim were keen for him to have another, but we probably overdid it a bit and let the winner get away,” he said.
“I thought he’d win but he’s going to run in the Wokingham. I think he likes small fields and if they split up, that might suit him.”
Stable stalwart Hamish appears unlikely to get his favoured soft ground for he Hardwicke Stakes at this stage.
Haggas said: “He wants soft ground so we need to debate whether to leave him in. We’ll see what the forecast is but I think there’s every likelihood he won’t be running. There’s a Group Three at York he might go for, but it all depends on the ground. Chester last time was very good, arguably his best bar his Irish Leger second.”
One horse definitely not running is Maljoom, but Haggas did offer encouragement that he would be back in action soon after being forced to rule him out of the Queen Anne.
“It’s a shame, he’s a lovely horse but he has soundness issues. We were getting well down the road to run at Ascot then he met with a problem,” said Haggas.
“I’m so grateful he’s got a patient owner and he will be more frustrated than we are, but we’re getting there and there’s still a long season ahead. He’ll get entries in everything and with a straightforward run, hopefully he’ll get to the Summer Mile (Ascot, July 15).”