St. James’s Palace Draws Poetic Flare, Battleground

St. James’s Palace Draws Poetic Flare, Battleground

More than half of the 13 jockeys riding in the June 15 St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) were not even born when Jim Bolger saddled his first Royal Ascot winner in 1983 and the master trainer hopes the ultra hardy Poetic Flare  can follow in the footsteps of his sire and 2013 scorer Dawn Approach .

While Dawn Approach arrived in Berkshire on the back of a QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (G1) victory and Investec Derby (G1) flop, Poetic Flare turns up for a remarkable fourth top-level tilt in just 45 days.

After Ballylinch Stud Red Rocks Two Thousand Guineas Trial success at Leopardstown in April, the homebred colt landed the first British classic at Newmarket on the first day in May, finished a staying-on sixth in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French Two Thousand Guineas, G1) 15 days on, then a week later went down by a short head to stablemate Mac Swiney  in the Tattersalls Irish Two Thousand Guineas (G1).

Bolger’s first royal meeting success came with Flame of Tara in the Coronation Stakes (G2) 38 years ago and market leader Poetic Flare, the mount of 54-year-old Kevin Manning, could take the County Carlow trainer’s tally to nine.

Bolger said: “He’s had an extraordinary season and you couldn’t do what we’ve done with him with every horse. He’s very hardy and I’ve never had a colt of his caliber who has needed as much work as he does. He’s come out of his Curragh run very well, and I think he has a big chance.”

Battleground Out to Bounce Back

Aidan O’Brien may not have a candidate of Giant’s Causeway or Rock of Gibraltar 
‘s stature to add to his leading tally of eight winners in the race but last year’s Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes (G2) scorer Battleground  is nonetheless a major contender.

Ryan Moore’s mount lost his action when finishing down the field in the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket on his return but previously finished second in his first crack at the top level in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America (G1T) at Keeneland.

He was a ready winner of the Chesham Stakes at last year’s Royal Ascot and sports a tongue tie for the first time on his second start of the campaign.

O’Brien said: “The track and the ground should really suit Battleground. He’s won at Ascot before, albeit on the straight course, and he won round a right-handed bend at Goodwood, too.

“We were looking forward to running him in the Irish Guineas but the ground just went against him so we took him out. He’s very well in himself.”

Battleground - Keeneland - 11-05-20
Photo: Keeneland/Coady Photography

Battleground trains ahead of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland

A first-time tongue tie is also applied to stablemate Wembley , who finished second to the reopposing Thunder Moon  in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (G1) and filled the same spot behind St Mark’s Basilica  in the Darley Dewhurst (G1) last year, but failed to fire in the English and Irish Two Thousand Guineas.

Wembley is the mount of Seamie Heffernan, while Wayne Lordan rides outsider Ontario , who finished second in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge (G2) last season but wears blinkers for the first time on his group 1 debut.

O’Brien said: “I hope and think Wembley will leave his run in the Irish Guineas behind him. The ground at the Curragh was very soft that day and he seems to be in good form. Ontario is back over a mile and we’re putting blinkers on him for the first time, so hopefully that will help him.”

Is Three the Magic Number for Gosdens?
Without Parole  and Palace Pier  arrived with 3-3 records before landing this mile event in 2018 and 2020 and John and Thady Gosden bid to repeat the feat with the unbeaten Mostahdaf .

Mostahdaf emulated Without Parole by winning Sandown’s Casumo Best Odds Guaranteed Heron Stakes en route to Ascot and the Shadwell homebred defeated the reopposing Highland Avenue  and Bullace  last month.

Jim Crowley’s mount recorded a three-pound lower Racing Post Rating than Without Parole that day and has 10 pounds to find with Poetic Flare on official ratings so improvement is required, but this has been on the agenda for the half brother to dual group 1 winner Nazeef  for several months.

John Gosden, who also won the race with Kingman  in 2014, said: “He has a nice draw in stall 1 providing he doesn’t get boxed in and we’ve planned this basically since March when he won going right-handed around Kempton.

“Then we went to the Heron Stakes at Sandown where he did well to win on testing ground. We know it’s a jump in class again and it’s a competitive race but we’ve been pleased with him since. He could well end up going a mile and a quarter later in the season.”

Better Ground Key to Appleby Pair

Three of Charlie Appleby’s four previous runners in the St. James’s Palace have finished in the first three and the Godolphin trainer is double-handed in his bid for a breakthrough success with Highland Avenue and
La Barrosa .

Highland Avenue, ridden by William Buick, has to turn recent form around with Mostahdaf but there are reasons to believe he could do just that on much quicker ground and given he is now three pounds better off.

He said: “We’ve been pleased with Highland Avenue in the lead up and hope he can be a big player as he steps up to the top level. 

“The wide draw (stall 12) is a slight disadvantage on the round course at Ascot but his homework has gone well. He learned plenty at Sandown and came forward again for that run, while ground conditions will suit him better this time.”

Bet365 Craven (G3) second La Barrosa finished sixth in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas last time and James Doyle’s mount is another likely to benefit from returning to decent ground.

Appleby said: “La Barrosa traveled well at the Curragh but couldn’t pick up on the soft to heavy ground. Returning to a faster surface is definitely going to suit and, if he can reproduce his second in the Craven, it will make him a contender.”

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