Saturday 25 May 2019

Promising 'Baba' can show her true worth for Walker on Ascot Trials Day

Trainer Ed Walker
Trainer Ed Walker

David Clough

The inaugural Royal Ascot Trials Day provides rich rewards for some and mid-summer reconnaissance for others - and Baba Ghanouj may be about to bag a bit of both.

This promising filly - trained by Ed Walker - can treble her career earnings if she prevails on her return to the turf.

She has feasible prospects too at a decent price in the Naas Racecourse Royal Ascot Trials Day EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes, on the basis of two highly-promising efforts to date.

She returns against a field which is typically unexposed, a description which applies to her as much as any.

Her six-and-a-quarter-length fourth on debut in a Newmarket maiden last September reads significantly better since the winning favourite Qabala surged to the head of the 1000 Guineas market by taking her tally to two from two in the Group Three Nell Gwyn Stakes this month.

Baba Ghanouj was then a comfortable winner of a Wolverhampton novice in November.

Much more will be needed here, of course, against seven fellow previous winners, but the potential to progress significantly is evident.

The same stands in triplicate for long-distance traveller Lady Pauline in the opening Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes.

American trainer Wesley Ward has plenty of previous, of course, when it comes to unleashing speed machines at the Royal meeting, and Lady Pauline is front and centre in his 2019 team. Footage of her impressive all-the-way annihilation of a maiden field at Keeneland this month will be enough to persuade the majority that short odds will be justified.

Calyx demonstrated his precocious ability with a memorable victory in the Coventry Stakes last June, and returns belatedly over course and distance in preference to moving up in trip for the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

Connections were clearly tempted by a shot at Newmarket's first Classic of the year, but decided it was perhaps an unfair question to ask after a 10-month absence.

Calyx may be a little rusty, and perhaps will appreciate further in time, but should still have the answers in the Merriebelle Stable Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes.

Before he struts his stuff again, the stayers are in Group Three action too in the Longines Sagaro Stakes.

Danehill Kodiac moves up to two miles for the first time, as does the same stable's first string Raymond Tusk, on his return from almost a year on the sidelines after a truncated campaign last summer. He has already won at this level round here, and may be able to defy his absence.

At Bath this evening, exciting prospect Smart Champion returns from a break in the 14-furlong handicap and Simon Crisford's charge is taken to make a winning seasonal bow at the main expense of Bayshore Freeway.

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