Task Force ready for Middle Park mission

Task Force looks set to represent race sponsors Juddmonte in this weekend’s Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, with Saturday’s Mill Reef hero Array more likely to wait for a possible tilt at the Dewhurst Stakes next month.

The Andrew Balding-trained Array notched his second win from five career starts in Group Two company at Newbury and retains the option of turning out just seven days later for a Group One assignment on the Rowley Mile.

However, while no final decision has been made, Juddmonte’s racing manager Barry Mahon raised the possibility of the youngster instead being supplemented for the Dewhurst on October 14.

He said: “We left Array in to keep options open until we speak with the ownership group, but it’s probably less likely that he’ll run and we’ll see if the owners would like to give consideration to the Dewhurst a couple of weeks later.

“We just said we’d leave him in there (Middle Park) in case there was a lot of rain and the ground came up on the soft side, as he obviously showed he liked that on Saturday.

“He came out of the race so well Andrew just said we’d keep our options open.

“He’s not in the Dewhurst, so he’d have to be supplemented. Once we’ve spoken to the ownership group we’ll come up with a plan.”

Task Force, a son of two Guineas winners in Frankel and Special Duty, impressed on his debut for Ralph Beckett at Salisbury before landing a Listed prize at Ripon and further improvement can be expected.

Mahon added: “He’s an intended runner in the Middle Park. He’s in good form, Ralph is happy with him and he worked nicely on Saturday.

“It’s a big jump from a Listed race to a Group One, but he’s a well-bred horse and we’re hopeful he can make the jump.”

Beckett has a second string to his bow in the supplemented Sirenia Stakes winner Starlust, while Aidan O’Brien has confirmed Battle Cry, Military and Coventry Stakes hero River Tiber, with the last-named colt the obvious candidate as he looks to bounce back from defeat in the Prix Morny.

He could renew rivalry with the winner of that Group One contest at Deauville six weeks ago, Simon and Ed Crisford’s Vandeek.

The William Haggas-trained Gimcrack winner Lake Forest and Paddy Twomey’s Round Tower Stakes victor Letsbefrankaboutit also feature among 13 contenders.

Fourteen fillies remain in the mix for the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes, with Relief Rally the potential favourite for the Haggas team.

The daughter of Kodiac’s only defeat in five starts to date came at Royal Ascot when beaten a nose by American raider Crimson Advocate in the Queen Mary, since when she has landed the Super Sprint at Newbury and the Lowther Stakes at York.

Her potential rivals include unbeaten French-trained filly Jasna’s Secret, Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna, Aidan O’Brien’s Cherry Blossom and the consistent Soprano from George Boughey’s yard.

A top-class card gets under way with the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes, in which Solario Stakes winner Aablan must be considered a major player for Charlie Appleby.

Aidan O’Brien is responsible for six of the 18 acceptors, with Capulet perhaps the most interesting having pushed stablemate Diego Velazquez close in a Leopardstown Group Two last time.

Roger Varian’s pair of Al Musmak and Defiance are also on the list, as are Ollie Sangster’s unbeaten youngster Per Contra and Beckett’s Macduff, runner-up to Al Musmak in a Haydock Listed event last time in the Juddmonte silks.

Mahon added: “It’s a possibility Macduff will run, it’s not a definite. We left him in there and we’ll see how he is during the week.

“I think we’ve said a few times he’s a big horse and it’s all about next year with him, but he seems in good shape and we’ll give strong consideration to running him.

“The horse that beat him at Haydock looked a very good horse that day, but you’re always hoping on a different day, on a different track and with a different set-up you might get a different result. You should never be afraid to give it a go.”

The Juddmonte team are also responsible for the ante-post favourite for the bet365 Cambridgeshire in Harry and Roger Charlton’s Greek Order.

A winner at Sandown in May and Newbury last month, the three-year-old will look to complete his hat-trick in the prestigious handicap.

Mahon said: “I’m looking forward to seeing him – he was very impressive on his last start.

“You’re always going to need a lot of luck in a Cambridgeshire with plenty of runners, but the ground should be OK and hopefully we get a nice draw and everything goes well.”

The weights for the Cambridgeshire are headed by Daniel and Claire Kubler’s York scorer Astro King, who is 1lb above the King and Queen’s Saga.

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