Persian King on course for 2000 Guineas – but French equivalent not ruled out

Fabre colt enjoyed sighter of Newmarket in Autumn Stakes

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Andre Fabre stepped up preparations for his Qipco 2000 Guineas candidate Persian King on Tuesday as the son of Kingman was named as one of 75 entries for the colts Classic at Newmarket on May 4.

Persian King, a winner over the course and distance in the Group Three Autumn Stakes in October, enjoyed his first turf canter of the year.

“Persian King has done well and has had a quiet winter. He had his first canter on the grass this morning and there is no rush with him,” said Fabre.

“I am a great fan of Newmarket and it helps that Persian King got some experience of the Rowley Mile when he won the Autumn Stakes there. It was a strong piece of form and he won despite still being green.

“But getting practice for the 2000 Guineas was not the sole purpose for running him in the Autumn Stakes – it was a good race for him on nice ground – and there is still a chance we could decide to run him in the French Guineas instead.

“I would very much like for him to have a prep race before his Classic and that could be in the Prix Djebel (at Maisons-Laffitte on April 10), but good ground is important for him so if we were to get heavy rain he may have to skip the trials.

“Although he is from the family of mile-and-a-quarter horses, including the Prix Ganay winner, Planteur, the influence of his sire, Kingman, is very important and Persian King has shown me the ability to accelerate off a high cruising speed.”

All the top two-year-old colts of 2018 are among the possibles, including the outstanding unbeaten champion juvenile Too Darn Hot and his John Gosden-trained stablemate Calyx, last seen running away with the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Other leading British-trained entries are two Charlie Appleby-trained Group One winners in Quorto and Line Of Duty, plus Martyn Meade’s Phoenix Stakes winner Advertise.

Aidan O’Brien has already landed the Newmarket showpiece a record nine times and has numerous strong contenders among his 16 representatives.

They are headed by Middle Park victor Ten Sovereigns and Magna Grecia, winner of the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

American trainer Wesley Ward has put ormer Brian Ellison-trained The Mackem Bullet in the Qipco 1000 Guineas on May 5, for which there are 58 entries.

She has already shown outstanding form at Newmarket, finishing a neck second to Fairyland in the Cheveley Park Stakes before going to America.

She has had two starts for Ward, both at Turfway Park, easily winning the first before finishing fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.

Ward said: “Bringing over a horse for the Guineas is something that I have always wanted to do and in The Mackem Bullet I think I might have found the right filly.

“It really helps that she already has plenty of European experience – it would be much more difficult with one who had raced exclusively in America.

“The plan is for The Mackem Bullet to run in the Appalachian Stakes next month and after that I will have to consult with her owner, Mr Yoshida, and his American agent, John McCormack, before we decide if we should take a big chance and send her over or keep her here in America.”

Irish trainers have plundered this prize three times in the last four years and look to have a very strong hand with 20 entries.

They include the Joseph O’Brien-trained Fillies’ Mile winner Iridessa and the Moyglare Stud Stakes heroine Skitter Scatter, who has recently joined the yard of John Oxx, who has teamed up with her former trainer Patrick Prendergast.

Aidan O’Brien has 14 possibles including Fairyland and Rockfel Stakes scorer Just Wonderful.

The British contingent is led by Kevin Ryan’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf runner-up, East, and Michael Bell’s Pretty Pollyanna, winner of the Prix Morny.

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