Weekender set distance poser in Henry II Stakes at Sandown

Connections keen to try two miles

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Weekender aims to confirm the promise of his win last time out when he steps up in class for the Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes at Sandown on Thursday evening.

Trained by John Gosden, the Frankel four-year-old has always had a tall reputation but looked in danger of failing to live up to the hype on occasions last season.

However, with another winter on his back he was much too good for Northumberland Plate winner Higher Power at Chelmsford, a performance which the handicapper raised him 10lb for.

Gosden said: “I think the Gold Cup (at Ascot) might be beyond him, distance-wise, I was thinking of bringing him back to a mile and a half.

“He just won so nicely over a mile-six we were keen to try him over two miles, as that would open up a lot more options.”

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “He won really nicely at Chelmsford.

“It was slightly hard to know the value of the race, but he could do no more than he did.

“He virtually made all the running and stayed on really well at the end, so it was a good run. He’d won there before, so we knew he was happy on the track.

“Obviously this is a step back into Pattern company, but the horse is in good shape.

“He’s been a big, scopey horse and has strengthened up over the winter, so he’s been a work in progress.”

David Simcock’s Sheikhzayedroad may be a nine-year-old but was only beaten a length by the top-class Vazirabad in the Dubai Gold Cup last time out.

His form does tend to be better in Dubai, but connections are eyeing up Royal Ascot.

“As he’s getting older David is trying to spread his races out a bit more,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Mohammed Jaber.

“This is the obvious next step for him before the Gold Cup at Ascot, as it gives him enough time.

“He ran a tremendous race in Dubai, once again, he absolutely thrives out there – David takes him there at the right time and it does him the world of good so we’re hopeful.”

Raymond also looks after the interests of Abdulla Al Mansoori, who runs Time To Study.

Trained by Mark Johnston the four-year-old went close in the Chester Cup last time out with nearly top weight.

“Time To Study is very consistent and should have a good chance, too,” said Raymond.

“He’s the progressive horse in the race and ran really well in the Chester Cup under a huge weight.

“Obviously this is another step up the ladder.”

Chester Cup winner Magic Circle is another to line up, as is Montaly, last year’s Chester Cup hero who went on to win the Lonsdale Cup.

Mount Moriah, Red Verdon and Glencadam Glory are the other runners.

Weekender set distance poser in Henry II Stakes at Sandown
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