The Foxes on the prowl in Belmont Derby on Saturday

The Foxes will get his first taste of international competition when he lines up in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes on Saturday.

Andrew Balding’s son of Churchill has twice struck gold at Group Two level – claiming the Royal Lodge as a two-year-old before adding the Dante earlier this season – and will head Stateside on the back of a respectable effort when fifth in the Derby at Epsom.

At Belmont The Foxes will have the chance to better Charlie Appleby’s Nations Pride, who suffered a narrow defeat in the Grade One contest 12 months ago, and join the Aidan O’Brien-trained pair of Deauville (2016) and Bolshoi Ballet (2021) who have taken the prize back to Europe in recent years.

Regular pilot Oisin Murphy will make the trip to New York to partner the three-year-old and connections are confident of defying a wide draw in stall 11, in a contest that will be shown live on Sky Sports Racing.

“We’re looking forward to seeing him run,” said Alastair Donald, racing manager for owners King Power.

“He’s got a slightly awkward draw in 11, but he tends to go back anyway and he has a good turn of foot. He looks like getting his favoured fast ground which you usually do get in America – we wouldn’t have gone there if there was a risk of slow ground.

“He’s the morning line favourite so we just hope for a bit of luck in running and I would say he looks the one to beat.”

The colt was beaten just over eight lengths when trying a mile and a half in the Derby, and having failed to stay in the premier Classic, now returns to 10 furlongs – a distance Donald believes will provide plenty of fruitful opportunities for The Foxes moving forward.

He added: “I don’t think you will see him at a mile and a half ever again, you might even see him at a mile in the future.

“There’s lots of races all around the world and at home as well for him, but this race looked an obvious target.

“There was no race for him at Ascot and he didn’t qualify for the Hampton Court as a Group Two winner so it was either this or the Eclipse and we felt with the conditions, this was too good an opportunity to miss.”

The Foxes’ trip to New York may not be the only time he gets his passport stamped this season, with a love of fast ground meaning connections may look at further international options towards the backend of the season.

“If he was to win at Belmont he may go for the same race at Saratoga (Saratoga Derby) and if you are doing well in America then you have the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year,” said Donald.

“There is all sort of options for him and the Saratoga race is a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Cox Plate as well.

“He’s a horse who wants fast ground, so come September we’re probably not looking at too many options in Europe at the latter end of the season. We will probably be looking more abroad for him and he’s an exciting horse to have.”

The Foxes is one of two European runners in the Belmont Derby along with the Appleby-trained Silver Knott, who was beaten just a nose at the Breeders’ Cup last season.

The son of Lope De Vega was last seen finishing third behind Kalik (Chad Brown) and Far Bridge (Todd Pletcher) – both in opposition again – in a Grade Two at Belmont five weeks ago.

“Silver Knott has remained in New York and has done well since the Pennine Ridge,” Appleby said on the Godolphin website.

“He is taking on the first two from that race in addition to The Foxes, who brings some very strong European form to the table, but we feel that stepping up to a mile and a quarter is going to suit our horse.”

Source link