By Jon Lees
The Martyn Meade stable will emerge from a near month-long period without a runner this week at Nottingham – where a positive showing from King Ademar can help raise confidence that Group One winner Advertise may bounce back to form at Royal Ascot.
Advertise gained his top-level victory in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh and ended the 2018 season by splitting Too Darn Hot and Saturday’s Investec Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in the Dewhurst Stakes.
But his lacklustre performance in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, where he trailed in nearly 20 lengths behind Magna Grecia, was followed by the defeat of Technician in the Chester Vase four days later and led Meade to call a temporary halt to a campaign which began with hopes of making a Classic breakthrough.
“The horses were just running below par,” said Meade.
“Everything was fine at home. Their bloods were fine – they were eating up and working well – but under pressure they were just not doing it.
“Advertise ran below par in the 2,000 Guineas, and then Technician was off his game at Chester. We thought Technician would win at Chester and go straight to Epsom for the Derby. Immediately after the Chester run, I thought ‘we have to stop now’.
“The only thing to do under those circumstances is to stop and try to find out a reason – but whether it was all or just the few that ran, we will never know. We closed down, and now we go again.
Advertise finished second to Calyx in last year’s Coventry Stakes at Ascot but this time is set to tackle the mile test of the St James’s Palace Stakes – in which he could meet Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain, Too Darn Hot and Magna Grecia.
“We will be looking at taking on the big shots with Advertise in the St James’s Palace Stakes,” said Meade.
“He is in the Commonwealth Cup too, but I think a mile will suit him better than six furlongs.
“He is in great form at home, really jumping out of his skin, so we are hoping for the best.
Technician is in a couple of races at Ascot, but he is also entered at Chantilly next week.
“We have to hope we can finish the season strongly. You start off with great hopes, and they can be dashed very quickly. But there is nothing you can do about if the horses aren’t firing 100 per cent.”
The 87-rated King Ademar makes his handicap debut off top weight on Wednesday at Nottingham, where he finished second in a novice race in April.
Meade said: “I think he is a pretty good prospect there, and if he does well then he will maybe go to the Britannia. We will have everything crossed.”