John Gosden Reiterates Reach For The Moon’s Warning Ahead Of Sandown’s Return | racing news
John Gosden again warned punters that Reach For The Moon will be better for the race in the Coral Heron Stakes at Sandown on Thursday night.
The son of Sea The Stars was well supported to end the Queen’s wait for a winner in the Cazoo Derby following a promising second in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and victory in the Solario Stakes at Sandown.
However, he has been sidelined since finishing second to Bayside Boy in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September.
Following interrupted preparation ahead of his three-year campaign, he makes his debut against five rivals at the Esher track, with Derby plans shelved and Royal Ascot on the radar for the Clarehaven Stables outfit, should he pass his initial test on the list. under Frankie Dettori.
Gosden said: “It’s his first race of the season. He picked up an injury last year and has been out for three months at the stud (at Sandringham) and they’ve done a good job on him.”
“He’s ready for one race, we have to give him one, and he’s coming for that race, but I’ve been clear about that, he’d be around 80-85 per cent.”
Rivals include exciting prospect Akhu Najla, who has only had two starts for Roger Varian, won a Leicester rookie over seven furlongs on his debut last October and opened his three-year-old campaign with a six-and-a-half length victory. on a mile maiden at Yarmouth.
Half-brother to classic hero Galileo Gold, Akhu Najla is already so low at 10-1 with Coral for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and his jockey David Egan feels his final shot could prove decisive.
Egan said: “He couldn’t have won more impressively last time. He did everything right and behaved well. He’s matured a lot from two to three.”
“He is a horse that showed some very good footwork at Yarmouth and that will be one of his greatest assets.
“He’s got a fast pedigree – he’s Kingman’s son and Galileo Gold’s half-brother, so there’s a lot of speed there.”
“At the same time, he’s relaxed at home. Roger, at the moment, thinks we’re going to stick to a mile. You never know. He’ll have the potential to go up to 10 furlongs over time.”
“A hard mile at Sandown should be within his capacity.”
William Haggas has his chain in excellent form and is represented by My Prospero, who is also making his third career start, having chased Claymore in a novice seven furlongs from Newmarket in October before opening his account in a maiden of mile at Newbury last month.
Haggas said: “It’s a strong race but we have to find out where we are before Ascot, so this has always been the plan.”
“Obviously Roger looks great (Akhu Najla) and Frankie is good (Reach For The Moon), so it’s going to be tough, but there you have it, that’s what we’re trying to figure out.
“The form of our race at Newbury hasn’t worked out at all, so they might find him wanting, but I think he’s a pretty good horse.”
Grand racing jockey Tom Marquand added: “He won wonderfully at Newbury. He had a good race at the end of last year and obviously came back with an impressive performance at Newbury and we’re very hopeful after that.”
“It’s a tougher race and tough opposition, but I hope I can make a step forward.”
Harrow is the most experienced performer of the sextet, having already run 10 times.
Andrew Balding’s charge won three times last year and was not far beaten in his latest junior start behind the subsequent French winner of the 2,000 Guineas Modern Games at Newmarket.
Although Star Of India beat him 11 lengths on the Dee Strakes at Chester when he climbed 10 1/2 furlongs last time, Harry Herbert, managing director of owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, feels he has answered some questions.
“Harrow didn’t stay in Chester,” Herbert said. “He traveled wonderfully, but he just didn’t stay.
“It’s bounced back wonderfully and on the one hand you think, why do we take it to Chester, because it’s so annoying, but you have to figure these things out?
“I love the track for him. I think the hardtail is absolutely his bag. He’s done so well from two to three that, if you take Chester out, his other two races this season (when he was runner-up at Kempton and Chelmsford) they are extremely good, possibly at racecourses that do not suit you.
“We probably haven’t seen the best of it. Sandown smells good as far as the track and the ride go, but it’s obviously a very hot race.”
“We haven’t gone beyond the plans that are after Dee. I don’t think there’s anything for him at Royal Ascot. The jersey is getting too short and there’s no mile race that fits. So this is an important one. one.”
Ian Williams rides Oneforthegutter, a Muhaarar colt making his debut at three years old, having finished second in a French Group Three in his penultimate start last year, before a disappointing showing behind Royal Patronage at the Royal Lodge. at Newmarket.
Williams said: “He had a very good start to his career as a two-year-old and was disappointed at Newmarket on his last start, when he didn’t drive the track.
“But he’s had a good winter and he’ll probably want a little more time, but a mile is a good place to start.”
“It ran well in Deauville. When you see the places The Wizard Of Eye (3rd) has appeared since then, that form isn’t bad.
“We’ll make plans based on what you do tomorrow.”
Rounding out the field is the James Horton-trained entertainer, who didn’t race both but opened his account in his second start at Wolverhampton last month and tackles a mile for the first time.
Horton said: “He hasn’t done anything wrong in his two races and the form has worked very well. His homework has been decent and we are going there to find out where we are.”
“We’ll find out about the mile. It’s an interesting race. You’ve got some pretty solid yardsticks and then three horses that have exactly the same profile as him.”
“It will be an interesting race and some people will be a little wiser on Thursday night.
“He’s at St. James’s Palace because the plan was to race the Heron and if he went and won and wasn’t in the race, we’d look pretty silly.”
“I’m hopeful that after tomorrow night we can determine if it’s a St. James’s Palace horse or if it’s a Jersey horse or if it’s neither.”