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Prix Maurice de Gheest: Doyle confident Naval Crown can sparkle

Fri 5 Aug 2022

James Doyle believes Naval Crown’s versatility will stand him in good stead ahead of the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville on Sunday.

A 33-1 winner of the Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot from better-fancied Charlie Appleby-trained stablemate Creative Force, he proved that was no fluke when a clear second to Alcohol Free in the July Cup.

Having finished fourth in last year’s 2000 Guineas, the six-and-a-half-furlong trip should not be an issue and he is set to go off favourite this weekend.

“He went into Ascot as a bit of an underdog at a big price but he backed it up in the July Cup, as we thought he would,” said Doyle.

“I’m very much looking forward to it. The trip shouldn’t be a problem as he was fourth in the Guineas and second in the Jersey, so he’s got that versatility.

“Ground-wise he’s versatile as well – he just got beat in a Jersey on heavy, but he’s got two top-class performances on fast ground as well.

“It’s always hard to know what ground you will get in France until you get there, but it looks a fairly decent forecast so it should be settled.”

Owen Burrows’ Minzaal finally delivered on his juvenile promise when winning the Hackwood Stakes from Go Bears Go, his first victory since the Gimcrack in 2020.

“He’s come out of Newbury great. You would still have another month until the Group One race at Haydock, so this fits in nicely. He was very strong at the end at Newbury so I don’t feel the extra half-furlong will hinder him at all,” said Burrows.

“As with any Group One it’s a very strong race, but fingers crossed he can be competitive. He’s been Group One-placed at two and Group One-placed at three, so it would be lovely if he can get his head in front for one.”

Clive Cox sends the rapidly-improving Harry Three to France but is well aware this represents a huge leap in grade from a Listed race he won at Deauville last time out.

“His progressing quickly but this is a huge step up to the highest level from a Listed race,” said Cox.

“But, he’s full of confidence and he’s shown solid form on the track. He’s travelled and arrived early and the journey went well which I’m pleased about, given the complications that can arise with that at the moment.

“He has already been to France, so you’d hope it is one less thing to worry about. He’s growing up all the time and becoming more experienced but this is a huge step up – I think he deserves it, though.

“This is an extra half-furlong but I hope it doesn’t worry him. It is another circumstance but in the meantime I don’t think it gives us any concerns.”

Richard Fahey’s Perfect Power never got involved in the July Cup, but the time before was a very impressive winner of the Commonwealth Cup and the North Yorkshire trainer hopes the extra half a furlong will suit.

“Since Christophe (Soumillon) started riding him I leave tactics to him, I’m sure he’ll be fine sorting him out,” Fahey told Sky Sports Racing.

“I just feel he’s a horse who loves to drop in and come from off the pace, but everybody knows you can’t do that at Newmarket. He just never got into the race and Christophe more or less accepted it.

“He was further back than even Christophe wanted him to be and it just didn’t happen. It was one of those races that wasn’t run to suit and to be fair, he recovered quickly as he didn’t have a hard race. I’m inclined to draw a line through it.

“The trip will suit, he’s won over seven and with hand on my heart, I would say seven is his best trip.”

Artorius, trained by Sam and Anthony Freedman in Australia, extended his European jaunt given the extra distance of this race having finished strongly into third in both the Platinum Jubilee and July Cup.

“He’s done really well out of the run at Newmarket,” Sam Freedman told Racing.com.

“It looks a nice race for him, we’re hopeful that the track will suit, they do a lot of racing on that Deauville surface at this time of year but he’s holding his form, we haven’t had to do a lot with him, he’s very fit. It looks like it should be a suitable trip.

“I think everyone can sort of agree, if a lot of the races he’s run in were 100 metres further, he probably gets very close in a lot of them. We still want a nice pace but hopefully it’s just not relentless the whole way and maybe he can just get a suck up behind them and show a good finish and be in touch with them.”

John Quinn’s Highfield Princess, David Evans’ Rohaan and the Charlie Hills-trained Garrus also make the journey.

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