CLIVE COX is really looking forward to the next five days of Royal Ascot, since it was at this meeting 12 months ago that he twice drew blood in Group 1 company with victories in the Prince of Wales's Stakes and the King's Stand Stakes.
My Dream Boat was the hero of the hour in the mile and quarter spectacle on the second day of the meeting but fast ground has ruled out a repeat this year, and it will be left to Profitable, who lifted to the King's Stand on the first day, to try and retain his crown.
Clive has ample backing from the progressive Priceless in that event and he's looking forward to the Commonwealth Cup on Friday where Harry Angel will be trying to gain his first Group 1 success.
Cox has had six winners at the Royal meeting since striking for a first time with New Seeker in the Britannia Handicap in 2003 and will have added enthusiasm for the performance of Prince of Dark whose sire Lethal Force provide him with his first Group 1 Royal Ascot success when taking the Diamond Jubilee in 2013. With a strong supporting cast with the likes of Heartache at his disposal it will hopefully be a lucrative week for his Beechdown Farm team.
Cox said: "They are a very nice bunch and it's the strongest team we've sent to the Royal meeting, and I will be more than pleased to settle for a repeat of the result we had last year."
On the eve of the meeting Clive kindly spoke to Tony Elves of ATR about his prospects for this week and beyond.
4 b f Equiano - Brazilian Style
Winner of three of her 14 starts and currently rated 97. Joined the stable this season and made a promising start on her reappearance at Newbury in April when third, beaten a length and a half, to Sir Robert Cheval off her current mark.
"She is a filly that we got from William Knight's and she ran well on her first start at Newbury. The ground dried out too much for her in a listed race at Nottingham next time but she has given me the right impression that she will be moving forward. She doesn't want the ground too firm and we will try and find a suitable opportunity for her."
5 b g Kodiac - Belmora
Winner of five of his 17 starts and currently rated 97. Continued his winning ways (successful in final two starts off 2016) on his reappearance at Sandown (1m) in May when scoring by a length from Greenside off a mark of 92 and finished second, beaten a length and a quarter, to that rival on his return to that course and distance last Saturday off his current mark.
"He had won three on the trot and ran a very commendable second at Sandown on Saturday off topweight. He is a very sound and honest horse that loves top of the ground and he might go to the July Sales as, sadly, his owner Robin Craddock passed away. In the meantime, he has shown he is at the top of his game with another very sound effort."
LIME AND LEMON
4 b f Makfi - Nimboo
Winner of one of her 10 starts and currently rated 76. Finished second, beaten a length and a half to Perfect Summer on her latest start at Windsor (1m 3 1/2f) in May off her current mark.
"She is a filly who likes to get her toe in and has run some nice races, especially around Windsor. She is having a break and we will see more of her in the Autumn."
5 b g Showcasing - Little Nymph
Winner of five of her 25 starts and currently rated 92. Last won on his reappearance at Windsor (6f) in April when beating Lightning Charlie two lengths off a mark of 88.
"He has run consistently and won at Windsor first time back then ran a blinder when third at Ascot. The ground had just changed and went too easy at Windsor last time but he is by Showcasing and is very honest."
MY DREAM BOAT
5 b h Lord Shanakill - Betty Burke
Winner of six of his 19 starts and currently rated 115. Career high success when beating Found a neck in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot (1m 2f) last June. Placed in both starts this season and runner-up, beaten two lengths, to Hawkbill in the Group 3 Aston Park Stakes at Newbury (1m 4f) in May on latest.
"He was our Prince of Wales's winner from last year, who did very well over the Winter and I think it has taken a couple of starts to get him back to his "A" game. He is very effective at a mile and a quarter and stays a mile and a half and I hope we can take the right steps between now and the Autumn where he has an Arc entry as well. I hope he can continue to show us a positive level of Group 1 form and we are very well entered all over but he doesn't want the going too firm and I think we will hold fire at Ascot this week because of the fast conditions. He is though in the Eclipse, the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and those sort of races which are themselves top class. If we run him this week when the ground is too firm it might take the edge off his performance."
9 ch g Dubai Destination - Perfect Story
Winner of nine of his 56 starts and currently rated 89 (AW) and 87 on the turf. Finished third, beaten a length and three quarters, to Amazement at Wolverhampton (1m 1 1/2f) in March off his current mark.
"He is one of our old stalwarts and he has won nine races. He is still a very reliable performer and he is having a bit of a break at the moment. He will be back in the second half of the season and also on the AW."
4 br f Bushranger - Love Quest
Winner of three of her 14 starts and currently rated 80. Won her first two starts this season - scoring by a short head from Capton at Windsor (1m 2f) in April off a mark of 70 and following up at Chepstow (1m 2f) in May with a two length defeat of Swizzle off a mark of 76.
"She started off winning at Windsor and Chepstow. She did well over the Winter and is very honest and reliable. She was probably feeling the effects of a few quick races at Salisbury the other day but she is from a good family and I am sure she will be back in form before too long."
4 b f Exceed And Excel - Molly Brown
Winner of four of her 12 starts and currently rated 110. Put up a career best performance when winning the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock (5f) in May by half a length from Goldream.
"She has done really well winning the Landsdowne at Bath and upping her game and making a big step up to win the Temple Stakes at Haydock. She has really strengthened and improved with confidence dropping back to five furlongs. She loves top of the ground and she runs in the King's Stand. That is going to be another step up for her but whilst she is improving the way she is and has her conditions we have to take our chance. She is in great form and brimming with confidence."
5 b h Invincible Spirit - Dani Ridge
Winner of five of his 19 starts and currently rated 116. Winner of the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot (5f) in June of last year and made creditable reappearance in Group 3 Prix de Saint-Georges at Deauville (5f) in May when runner-up, beaten two lengths, to Signs of Blessing.
"He is a proven Group 1 winner and we campaigned him with a prep run in France this year as the races we ran him in last year were on very firm ground which he wouldn't be in love with. He has run well at Ascot on a quicker surface but he does prefer a little ease in the ground. With the King's Stand on the first day I would be hopeful they will be providing a sensible surface for him to perform. He is training very well indeed and I am looking forward to seeing him in action."
9 b g Haafhd - Atnab
Winner of five of his 50 starts and currently rated 90. Finished third, beaten four and three quarter lengths, to George Bowen at Nottingham (6f) last Thursday.
"He is one of our old campaigners but extremely reliable. He ran a blinder when third at Nottingham last week and that has given me confidence we can still get his head in front. The handicapper is starting to give him a small bit of daylight."
4 ch c Dutch Art - Barynya
Winner of three of his 8 starts and currently rated 112. Scored by a length and three quarters from Master The World in the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury (1m) last August and creditable second, beaten a length and three quarters, to Lightning Spear in the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood (1m) later that month.
"He has taken his time to come to himself this Spring but is clearly a very capable performer having won the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury and a listed race at Sandown last year and finishing second in the Celebration Mile. He has an entry in the Sussex Stakes and all being well we can get a prep race into him prior to that."
b f Arcano - Xena
Winner of one of her 5 starts and currently rated 79. Creditable reappearance at Lingfield (6f) on Saturday night when fourth, beaten only a length, to Beck And Call.
"She won on top of the ground at Chepstow last season and made a very pleasing reappearance in what looked a decent fillies' handicap at Lingfield last Saturday when beaten only a length. She goes well on a quicker surface and there should be ample opportunities for her through the Summer."
b f Kodiac - Dark Arts
Winner of two of her 6 starts and currently rated 96. Winner twice at Bath (5f) last season and third, beaten only a length and three quarters, to Afandem in a Group 3 at Chantilly (5f) in September on her final start.
"She is Group 3 placed in France last year and she had a small setback which we have taken our time with. She is moving forward and hopefully will achieve more black type over the coming months."
ch c Helmet - Reine De Romance
Placed in four of his 6 starts and currently rated 82. Failed by only a head behind Burrishoole Abbey at Sandown (7f) on Saturday off his current mark.
"He was beaten a head in a competitive handicap at Sandown on Saturday and is becoming more confident with racing. Stepping up to a mile is going to be more helpful as well."
b f Exceed And Excel - Photo Flash
Winner of two of her 10 starts and currently rated 84. Returned to winning form when beating Awesome Allan a nose on her latest start at Windsor (5f) this month off a mark of 80.
"She won at Windsor on softer ground than would have been ideal last time and she is on a rating of 84. I am hopeful she can continue to progress and possibly gets some black type along the way as well as she is from a nice family."
gr f Mastercraftsman - Dani Ridge
Winner of one of her 4 starts and currently rated 72. Off the mark when beating Cobalty Isle a head in a maiden at Salisbury (6f) in May.
"She won at Salisbury after being second at Goodwood and a couple of runs on a quick surface didn't agree with her. We will be saving her for when we get a drop of rain."
b c Excelebration - Quiritis
No wins from 5 starts and currently rated 72. Best effort this term when third, beaten half a length, to Arctic Sea at Chepstow (1m) in May off a mark of 71.
"He has been placed and was unlucky not to win at Chepstow. He is very versatile on the ground and stays a mile well and may even get a bit further. He is a good honest performer."
gr c Dark Angel - Sixsfields Flyer
Winner of one of his 2 starts and currently rated 78. Off the mark when short heading Pillar Of Society at Nottingham (6f) in October.
"He has taken time coming to himself in the first half of the season and we should hopefully be cracking on with him soon. He finished second and then won at Nottingham last October and is a big strong colt we still have plenty of confidence in going forward."
b c Delegator - Sparkle Park
Placed in three starts and currently rated 75. Came closest to victory when second, beaten a head, to Snow Squaw at Salisbury (7f) in April.
"He has been unlucky being placed three times. The ground was plenty quick enough for him at Leicester last time and it won't be long before he's getting his head in front."
b c Kodiac - Magilini
Promise in sprint maidens at Ascot and Sandown last September and Windsor in May. Given a mark of 71.
"He has shown a bit of promise in three runs so far and I would hope he could be competitive off a rating of 71.
ch f Pivotal - Sabreon
Winner of three of her 6 starts and currently rated 94. Gained her latest victory at Sandown (1m 2f) in April when beating First Nation a length and a quarter off a mark of 83. Finished runner-up, beaten three and three quarter lengths, to Natavia in a Listed event at Newbury (1m 2f) in May when last seen out.
"She has had an impeccable Spring after not running last year and won three race prior to finishing second in a listed race. She likes to get her toe in over a mile and a quarter and could possibly even get a mile and a half. She is full of courage and determination and a nice filly to train."
ch f Foxwedge - Copy Cat
Winner of one of his 7 starts and currently rated 72. Off the mark on her final start at Windsor (5f) last October when beating Mercers two and a half lengths. Unplaced both starts this term.
"She needed her first run and was a bit unlucky the other day at Salisbury where she saw no daylight and got smacked around the head in the bargain as well. I hope she could take a step forward given a bit of luck next time."
ch f Foxwedge - Ahwahnee
No wins from 5 runs and currently rated 70. Finished eighth, beaten 11 lengths, to Fantasy Keeper on her handicap bow at Nottingham (6f) in May off a mark of 73.
"The ground has been a little too fast for her, but she is coming to herself now. Hopefully. we can find a race for her when the ground is suitable."
b f Choisir - Afrodita
Finished fourth, beaten six and three quarter lengths, to Isabel's On It, on her debut at Lingfield (7f) this month.
"She finished fourth on her debut at Lingfield and she will certainly progress up to a mile. She will be running in another maiden in the next few weeks."
gr c Delegator - Ice Haven
Winner of two of his 6 starts and currently rated 88. Came closest to victory this season when short headed by Hajaj at Ascot (1m) in May off a mark of 86.
"He ran a nice race at Newbury first time then finished second at Ascot in a very competitive handicap. He then ran in a valuable race at Haydock where the ground was just a little too quick for him and he had an outside draw and never really found a rhythm throughout the race. I think we can forgive him that and hopefully he will be back on track soon."
b c Dark Angel - Beatrix Potter
Winner of two of his 4 starts and currently rated 118. Made a pleasing reappearance in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot (6f) in May when runner-up, beaten a length and a half, to Blue Point and stepped up on that effort when slamming Second Thought four and half lengths in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock (6f) in May.
"He has given us that confidence after only having two runs last year and being good enough to lose his maiden tag in the Mill Reef Stakes. He had a penalty in the Pavilion Stakes but ran a race full of promise to finish second to Blue Point. I was delighted with the way he won the Sandy Lane at Haydock and he really is coming of age as he gains more experience. I am really looking forward to his run in the Commonwealth Cup."
ch f Medicean - Regal Heiress
Third in three starts in maidens and beaten only half a length to Lightening Dance at Goodwood (1m 2f) in June.
"She has finished third in her three starts and appreciated the step up to a mile and a quarter at Goodwood last week. She wouldn't want conditions too firm but is a very impressive individual and she is sure to progress."
b c Kodiac - Kris Spring
Winner of one of his 6 starts and currently rated 93. Winner at Windsor (6f) in July of last year when beating Majeste a neck and subsequently third, beaten three lengths, to Mokarris in a listed race at Newbury (6f) later that month.
"He didn't see out the seven furlongs at Epsom and was a little disappointing at York on Saturday but we put a hood on him and whether that didn't agree with him I'm not sure. I am just scratching my head a little bit. He has given us enough confidence at home and we will just have to regroup."
b c Henrythenavigator - Wonderful Desert
Winner of two of his 8 starts and currently rated 75. Made a winning reappearance at Windsor (1m) in April when beating Delfie Lane a length and a half off a mark of 70.
"He won first time out at Windsor and at Bath last year with the help of blinkers. He didn't handle the track at Epsom and was running a nice race at Goodwood the other night when he got very badly bumped and stopped in his run. I hope he can continue his progress shortly."
br g Foxwedge - Tintac
No wins from 4 runs and currently rated 73. Unplaced to Call Me Grumpy at Sandown (7f) on Saturday.
"He has been gelded and is better for it and ran in a competitive race at Sandown at the weekend. He will appreciate going a mile and we might just see him wearing some cheekpieces next time."
ch f Mayson - Lisieux Orchid
No wins from 4 starts and currently rated 55. Probably best effort when third, beaten eight lengths, to Express Lady at Lingfield (7f) in May.
"She had been placed over seven furlongs and wouldn't mind a bit of ease in the ground. She is a filly who can go better off her present rating."
b f Showcasing - Park Law
Winner of two of her 3 starts and currently rated 86. Successful at Kempton (6f) in November when beating Ashwaq half a length and Chelmsford (1m) in May when beating Salamah a nose off a mark of 79. Finished third, beaten a length and three quarters, to Mukalal off a mark of 84 when attempting to complete the hat trick at Wolverhampton (1m 1/2f) in June.
"She won twice on the AW before running a little bit flat at Wolverhampton afterwards. She is a filly we like very much and I am sure she will progress further on the turf."
b f Monsieur Bond - Tibesti
Finished third, beaten two and a half lengths, to Merlin at Nottingham (6f) in May on her only start.
"She is a very well bred filly being a full sister to Move In Time who won the Prix de L'Abbye for David O'Meara. Hopefully she will have no trouble losing her maiden tag."
SEE THE MASTER
b c Dutch Art - See Emily Play
No wins from 4 starts and currently rated 74. Came closest to victory when runner-up, beaten two and a quarter lengths, to Sharp Defence at Salisbury (7f) in April.
"He was second at Salisbury on ground quicker than I thought he would like and seemed to love it. He seems to be happier on a quicker surface than a slow one and he didn't get a lot of luck from an outside draw last time at Windsor. I am looking forward to him running again shortly."
THE JEAN GENIE
b/br f Lawman - Miracle Seeker
No wins from 3 runs and finished sixth, beaten five lengths, to Neshmeya at Salisbury (1m 2f) on Sunday.
"She ran at Newbury first time out and got a little bit upset and pulled up not 100 per cent. She has done well since then and is from a good family and I would hope she can progress. We will see what the handicapper does with her and go for there."
b c Harbour Watch - Mythicism
Winner of two of his 6 starts and currently rated 110. Winner of the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte (51/2f) in July of last year when beating Al Johrah two and a half lengths. Finished fourth, beaten three and three quarter lengths, to Blue Point in the Pavillion Stakes at Ascot (6f) in May on reappearance.
"He won the Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte in course record time and we got a little bit stuck in the fast lane with him last year. I think he was a horse who just needed a little bit of time. I was pleased with his run in the Pavillion and I think six furlongs is stretching his stamina but we are going to let him run in the Commonwealth Cup as he is in such good form."
B f Oasis Dream - Ensemble
Runner-up, beaten four lengths, to Isabel's On It on her debut at Lingfield (7f) at the start of the month and another respectable effort at Newbury (1m) last week when fourth, beaten four lengths, to Standing Rock.
"She has been second and fourth in her two starts and is an honest progressive filly who will probably stay a bit further. I am looking forward to her losing her maiden tag."
b f Kyllachy - Place In My Heart
Winner of her only start at Bath (5f) in May when slamming Fab six lengths.
"She won very impressively at Bath and winning in a very good time as well. I trained her dam to win the Landsdowne and being by Kyllachy she has got a wonderful temperament and is a very nice filly. She runs in the Queen Mary on Wednesday."
b c Kodiac - Eponastone
Scored by a half a length from Dahik on his debut at Doncaster in April and subsequently third, beaten two and a quarter lengths, to Denaar in a conditions event at Newbury (6f) in May.
"He won well and very professionally at Doncaster then we ran him in that Olympic Glory race at Newbury on very soft ground which was very uncomfortable for him. He will run in the Norfolk Stakes."
PRINCE OF THE DARK
gr c Lethal Force - Fanrouge
Impressive two and a quarter length winner from Last Page on his debut at Bath (5 1/2f) in May.
"He won at Bath before getting loose and having a run around the course. I am delighted as he is our first winner by Lethal Force and he will be running in the Coventry."
MY DREAM BOATATR Tracker - quick ground rules out a repeat bid for the Prince of Wales's but his time will come again when the rain arrives.
PRICELESSATR Tracker - very much on the upgrade and looks sure to win more races at the top level.
PROFITABLEATR Tracker - game winner of the King's Stand last year and in the form to make a bold bid for a repeat.
ZONDERLANDATR Tracker - lightly raced and progressive and can come good in Group company in the second half of the season.
FLOOD WARNINGATR Tracker - progressive filly who looks sure to attain winning black type this term.
HARRY ANGELATR Tracker - speedball who looks sure to be bang there in an eagerly awaited Commonwealth Cup.