Trainer Charlie Appleby, shown here with Yibir after his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf
QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus bids to complete a double famously achieved by racing greats including Brigadier Gerard and Frankel when he takes on 12 rivals in the St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday, which is part of the 35-race QIPCO British Champions Series,
The double was also completed by Poetic Flare 12 months ago, but whereas he also took in the French and Irish Guineas, Coroebus has been kept fresh for Royal Ascot since Newmarket.
On that occasion Coroebus won fair and square from his shorter-priced stable-companion Native Trail, who was the champion 2021 two-year-old and has since won the Irish 2000 Guineas. His credentials are outstanding and Charlie Appleby believes Ascot’s turning mile will suit the son of Dubawi after racing exclusively at Newmarket thus far.
Appleby, who will be bidding for a personal first in a race Godolphin have won with Shamardal (2005), Dawn Approach (2013) and Barney Roy (2017), said: “Royal Ascot is our Olympics and Coroebus is our star horse on day one. It was always the plan to come straight to the St James’s Palace after the Guineas and his work has been more than pleasing. He’ll be the horse they’ve all got to beat.
“The Guineas form has been franked by Native Trail winning the Irish Guineas well. It’s rock solid form and it looks as if it was another good Guineas this year. There’s no getting away from it – he’s a horse everyone is excited to see on the first day.
“I think the round mile at Ascot should suit him. He’s a strong traveller, and if anything sometimes on the straight mile at Newmarket a jockey has to sort of count to five before allowing him to make his move, whereas on a turn it might just allow him to come back behind the bridle a little more and a jockey can therefore ride more of a race on him.”
On paper the principal dangers are two lightly-raced colts from the William Haggas stable. My Prospero, beaten only on the first of three starts, won the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown last time and has a BHA rating of 114, while Maljoom was making it three wins from three runs when landing the German 2000 Guineas and is rated just a pound lower. Tom Marquand rides My Prospero and Cieren Fallon will be on Maljoom.
Haggas said: “They are two improving young 3-year-olds and it’s a very prestigious race, so they are entitled to have a shot. They’ve got a lot to find to beat Coroebus, but they are going the right way.
“They are different. Maljoom would be the faster of the pair, but My Prospero will stay well.”
John Gosden, who won the St James’s Palace with strong fancies Kingman (2014), Without Parole (2018) and Palace Pier (2020), saddles a less obvious candidate in Mighty Ulysses, who races for Derby winning owner Saeed Suhail and put up his best performance when just touched off in a hot handicap at Haydock.
Gosden said: “It looks a smart race and he’s got to take the Guineas winner on, but he’s rated 110 now and when they get up to that rating you don’t get too many options. He got that rating from his second in a good handicap at Haydock, where I think he made his move too soon.”
Coroebus had Berkshire Shadow (fifth), Lusail (sixth), Light Infantry (ninth) and Checkandchallenge (last but one) among those behind him in the Guineas, and they have it all to do if they are to turn the tables.
However, Lusail did particularly well after an awkward start and is the sort to outrun his odds on the fast ground he showed he loves last year when winning the July Stakes and the Gimcrack, both Group 2s.
Angel Bleu, a dual Group 1 winner in France last year, was aimed at the Irish 2000 Guineas rather than Newmarket but missed that race as Ralph Beckett’s team weren’t really firing.
Beckett is much happier with him now, although he would prefer easier ground. He said: “He worked well on Thursday and he’s all set to go, but whether he can beat this lot on fast ground I don’t know. He wasn’t pleasing me when we were looking at the Irish 2000 Guineas, but he’s back in good shape again now.”
The Irish 2000 Guineas form is still represented however by much improved runner-up New Energy, from the Sheila Lavery stable, and by fourth-placed Wexford Native, who gave Native Trail a race until weakening inside the last furlong and is from the Jim Bolger stable which won this last year.
Bayside Boy represents the French 2000 Guineas form but he failed to do himself justice there. He was a Group 2 winner last year, and a Group 1 third in the Dewhurst and the Vertem Futurity.
Aikhal, representing eight-time winner Aidan O’Brien, completes the field. He has not been out since finishing fourth in Group races won by Coroebus and Angel Bleu last year.