Saturday 18 August 2018

Walk In The Sun set to run at Ascot despite failed dope test

Jeremy Noseda, former trainer of Walk In The Sun. Photo: Neville Hopwood/Getty Images
Jeremy Noseda, former trainer of Walk In The Sun. Photo: Neville Hopwood/Getty Images

Chris Cook

A mystery horse at the centre of twin controversies is heading to one of Royal Ascot's most prestigious races a week on Tuesday. Walk In The Sun failed a dope test for an as-yet undeclared substance after winning at Lingfield in February and has not been seen on a racecourse since, though he has switched stables, to the evident ire of his former trainer, Jeremy Noseda.

The colt, which cost €1.4m at auction last year, was an exciting prospect after winning his first two races but it emerged in March that he had returned a positive test. A month ago, Walk In The Sun was one of 14 horses removed from Noseda's yard by the owner, the big-spending Phoenix Thoroughbreds, prompting the trainer to tweet: "I am shocked and surprised by their decision. I have no reason or explanation."

That was the most recent Twitter activity by Noseda, who has seemingly been left with few bullets to fire from his Newmarket yard. He had three runners in May and has made one entry for the coming week.

Martyn Meade, the Manton-based trainer who has inherited Walk In The Sun, said this week that the horse is pleasing him and the plan is to run in the St James's Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting. "He's settled in well and we've been taking it gently with him," he said. "It is very much the plan to run at Ascot. He's done a couple of nice bits of work. Oisin Murphy rides, as long as he's available."

The unresolved dope test issue will not prevent Walk In The Sun from lining up at Ascot, Meade has been assured. "The British Horseracing Authority have confirmed he's eligible to run. Whatever else might be going on over that, I'm not a party to it and it doesn't involve me."

Tom Ludt, vice-president of equine operations at Phoenix, said he could not comment on the test "as it's still pending". He added: "We moved the horses for business reasons, which was in the best interest of Phoenix but not just one issue."

While Ludt did not refer directly to other issues, Phoenix also had Gronkowski with Noseda and expected him to run in the Kentucky Derby until the horse was found to have a fever in late April. He was moved to the US trainer Chad Brown and was due to run last night in the Belmont Stakes.

Ludt said that Phoenix is "a new and growing" operation and that staffers are "so excited and happy to see such great early results. Participating at Royal Ascot with potentially three horses this year is just awesome." He added that a deal had been done for Phoenix to buy half of an Ascot-bound two-year-old with Meade called Advertise and that a second such deal over a filly remained a possibility.

Noseda and the BHA declined to address the outstanding questions over Walk In The Sun's test.

William Haggas can celebrate having given the Queen a valuable success in the US, after he sent Call To Mind to New York to win the Belmont Gold Cup on Friday night. The four-year-old picked up £162,000 for beating seven rivals comfortably under Javier Castellano in the two-mile contest, run on the eve of the owner's official birthday.

But a follow-up tilt at the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot is unlikely, according to Maureen Haggas, wife of the trainer, who was saddling the yard's runners here yesterday. "It's a long journey and he's not back till Tuesday," she said. "Stradivarius looks hard to beat.

"It just looked like he wasn't good enough for the Gold Cup, so William thought it was a good opportunity for him, worth a lot of money and they don't have too many two-mile horses in America, do they? They think it's a weird race."

Haggas added that the owner was "really pleased", having also bred Call To Mind.

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