Mostahdaf bids to make it three wins from as many visits to Sandown when he steps up to a-mile-and-a-quarter for the first time in Friday’s bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes.
The Frankel colt was stepped up to Group One level after landing the Listed Stakes here last May. John and Thady Gosden’s charge was ultimately well beaten at Royal Ascot in the St James’s Palace Stakes, but bounced back with a second Listed success at Sandown before bagging a Group Three prize at Newmarket.
Faced with just two rivals on his seasonal reappearance, Mostahdaf will be a warm order to to claim a sixth win from seven starts in the hands of Jim Crowley.
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Angus Gold, racing manager for owner-breeders Shadwell, said: “It’s his first time over a-mile-and-a-quarter, which will be interesting, but he’s been working well and everybody is happy with him so far. I think he’s a more mature horse now, so hopefully he’ll continue his progression.”
Mostahdaf’s Darley Stakes success means he must concede 3lb to both the Andrew Balding-trained Fox Tales and Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano.
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Foxes Tales won a Royal Ascot handicap and a Group Three at Haydock last season and was last seen finishing seventh in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
“He’s the sort of horse that’ll benefit for a racecourse appearance. He’s a big, heavy horse and quite lazy at home, so no doubt he’ll come on for a run,” said Balding. “The hope is that he’ll stay a mile and a half and that is something we’ll experiment with, probably after this race.”
Oisin Murphy celebrates as Foxes Tales wins at Royal Ascot last year
Goldspur set to star in Classic Trial
The other Group Three on Friday’s card is the bet365 Classic Trial, in which Goldspur will be widely expected to play a starring role for the red-hot combination of Charlie Appleby and William Buick.
The son of Dubawi made a winning debut here in September and rounded off his juvenile campaign by finishing third in the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud a month later.
Goldspur (white cap) beats Unconquerable and stablemate Hafit to win the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket
Appleby told the Godolphin website: “We have been pleased with how Goldspur has progressed over the winter. He broke his maiden at Sandown and went on to get some nice form in the book at Newmarket and Saint-Cloud. If he reproduces the top end of his juvenile form, he is going to be very competitive.
“Like all three-year-olds at this time of year, everyone is trying to see where they fit in the rankings. Hopefully, this is a stepping-stone on to better things, and a step up in distance in time is going to see further improvement.”
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Goldspur is one of two Godolphin-owned runners along with John and Thady Gosden’s Newcastle novice winner Franz Strauss, who is joined by stablemate Frantastic.
The other hopefuls are Aidan O’Brien’s Irish raider River Thames, a debut winner at Punchestown, David Simcock’s Newmarket scorer Cash and Westover from Ralph Beckett’s yard.