Saturday 17 February 2018

Michelangelo gains edge over Expense

Michelangelo allowed Goodwood's Casco Cocked Hat Stakes to remain in the same hands after overcoming inexperience to catch Expense Claim in yesterday's closing stages.

A year ago it was another valuable colt, Masked Marvel, which carried Bjorn Nielsen's colours to victory in this Listed prize for trainer John Gosden and jockey William Buick, and Michelangelo looks an equally exciting three-year-old middle-distance prospect.

Masked Marvel himself went on to glory in the St Leger, while Royal Ascot may await this son of Galileo, which was having his second start.

Michelangelo still went off the 4/6 favourite after finishing third to Noble Mission in a similar contest at Newmarket, but he nearly blew his chance when very slowly away from the stalls.

Jimmy Fortune attempted to cleverly steal an advantage running downhill on Expense Claim and his lead lasted until the final furlong before Michelangelo, gradually wound up towards the centre of the track, won by half a length.

The winner is entered in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and Nielsen's representative, bloodstock agent Charlie Gordon-Watson, said: "I don't know what the trainer says, but I know the owner is thinking that way (Royal Ascot). He's a work in progress, this horse, and his future is ahead of him going into next year. The Derby was the original plan, but time went against us and John ran in the race at Newmarket due to lack of opportunities.

"He's out of a Darshaan mare, a classic mile-and-a-half pedigree, and if they are by Galileo as well and show a bit of speed, they are on the right track."

Over in France tomorrow, Cirrus Des Aigles has another chance to demonstrate his remarkable versatility in the Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp. Corine Barande-Barbe's gelding has now established himself as one of the sport's top competitors across the world, winning last year's Champion Stakes and going on to land the Dubai Sheema Classic.

He returned to France to take the Group One Prix Ganay, over a mile and three furlongs on heavy ground, by eight lengths and now drops back to just over nine furlongs. Cirrus Des Aigles, which was beaten just a quarter of a length by the outstanding Goldikova in last year's Ispahan, faces a few familiar faces.

These include Planteur, which defeated him in the previous year's Ganay and finished third in the Dubai World Cup on his first start for Newmarket trainer Marco Botti.

Last year's French Derby winner Reliable Man and Andre Fabre's filly Golden Lilac are also lining up along with David O'Meara's Sandown Mile winner Penitent. "It's going to be a difficult race -- there are some horses from the big stables coming back for their first run, as well as Planteur and Reliable Man -- but he ran well in the race last year," aid Barande-Barbe.

Cirrus Des Aigles is rated 8/11 by Paddy Power, with Planteur 9/2.

Meanwhile, Dubai World Cup hero Monterosso is among the initial entries for the reopened Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown on Thursday. The prestigious Group Two prize is seen as an ideal stepping-stone to some of the summer's major middle-distance prizes, but has this year been reopened after attracting only seven horses.

But there will be at least one star name when the entries are revealed after Godolphin confirmed on Twitter: "Monterosso & Hunter's Light among Brigadier Gerard Stakes contenders."

Other horses which have been mentioned as possible participants include King George winner Nathaniel and Carlton House. The Betfair Henry II Stakes on the same evening has attracted 13 contenders, with Godolphin's Opinion Poll the most notable entry.

Irish Independent

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