By Simon Jackson.
James Doyle is eyeing back to back wins in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot after scoring on the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Abseil at Epsom Downs on Friday.
Doyle landed the Hunt Cup on Belgian Bill last year and looks to have another live chance with Abseil, who boosted his prospects of securing a place in this year’s field with a hard-fought victory on Oaks day.
At Epsom Abseil travelled well as he tracked the leaders for the bulk of the Class 2, eight and half furlong contest and prevailed by half a length, despite hanging right in the closing stages.
The penalty for that success is likely to secure a place in the Hunt Cup field for the four-year-old owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, who retains Doyle.
“The occasion got to him a little bit today – he was very lit up cantering to the start with all the funfair in the middle,” Doyle said at Epsom. “He had his eye on that and it just lit him up a bit.
“It was a bit the same in the race. He raced with the choke out a little bit early and rolled down the camber. He’s very inexperienced and this will stand him in good stead.
“Hopefully, he can progress and he is definitely going the right way.”
Lord Grimthorpe, Prince Khalid’s racing manager added: “He was a little bit gassy early on, but he’s still pretty fresh. He handled everything nicely and came down the hill in good style, but it helps if you’re on the bridle.
“He didn’t race until this season, because he had little niggles. He’s a very inexperienced horse and still learning, and we hope there’s improvement to come. James said the ground is riding on the faster side of good now, and the times are pretty standard, so I think he likes good or better ground.
“Hopefully, the penalty for winning today should get him into the Royal Hunt Cup, but that is a very different test. The straight mile of that race is quite a challenge, but he travels well and jumps well.
“He’s got a Group 1 pedigree – his dam was a Breeders’ Cup winner and he’s from the great Hasili family – so we hope he can progress up. But he’s still learning and we’ll see how we go.”
Abseil now heads the betting at 6-1 for the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot on June 18.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.