NEWMARKET // Godolphin unearthed two possible Royal Ascot contenders at Newmarket Racecourse on Wednesday among their three winners on the first day of the Craven meeting.
Saeed bin Suroor saddled the lightly-raced Next Stage to win the 1,600m handicap, while Charlie Appleby secured a double when Sound And Silence won the 1000-metre novice event after stable companion Night Circus broke his maiden in the opening race of the afternoon.
Next Stage had not run for 300 days since he disappointed in soft ground last season, but back on good to firm going the son of Dubawi had too much under Oisin Murphy and held off Qatar Racing’s Shaiyem by a length and a half.
It was Next Stage’s fourth career run, and his trainer suggested the four-year-old colt needs more time.
“I think this horse is one for the future,” Bin Suroor said. “He needs to improve a lot. I would like to take him to Royal Ascot but he needs another race. He carried some condition. We need to race him against better horses to see how good he is.”
The Royal Hunt Cup on June 21 would be an obvious target.
Sound And Silence could well be aimed at either the Coventry Stakes on June 20 over 1,200 metres, or the Norfolk Stakes over 1000 metres on June 22, but is likely to race again beforehand.
William Buick led from the start aboard the son of Australian sire Exceed And Excel and although challenged by Never Back Down — ridden by James Doyle who had only just returned from his stint in Australia — there was still half a length at the line.
“We have been very pleased with this horse,” Appleby said. “We’ll try to plan a route towards Ascot with this horse. I think he will get further, I don’t think six [furlongs — 1,200 metres)] will be a problem. He would be one of the sharpest I’d have.”
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