Highland Avenue on course for St James’s Palace

Highland Avenue on course for St James’s Palace
Appleby has high hopes for three-time winner as he readies Royal Ascot squad.

Highland Avenue is set to lead trainer Charlie Appleby’s assault on the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot

The Dubawi colt won his first three starts this year, before losing little in defeat when failing by half a length to give Mosthadaf 3lb in last month’s Heron Stakes at Sandown.

Appleby was pleased with that run, and feels Highland Avenue has the credentials to put up a good show in next week’s Group One over a mile.

I believe when you go to Ascot you have to be battle-hardened, and he’s put that onto his CV now

Trainer Charlie Appleby, on Highland Avenue

“Highland Avenue will go for the St James’s Palace Stakes,” the Newmarket trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“He finished second at Sandown. He’s come out of the race very well.

“I was delighted with the run. He had the penalty. I believe when you go to Ascot you have to be battle-hardened, and he’s put that onto his CV now.

“Sandown was very much a stepping-stone to the St James’s Palace, as long as he ran well. I’m very much looking forward to seeing him on a quicker surface at Ascot.”

Appleby will also saddle La Barrosa, who got stuck in the testing ground at the Curragh in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

“We’ll add to La Barrosa to the St James’s Palace picture. We were pleased with his run on his last start,” he said.

“He was second to Master Of The Seas in the Craven and at the Curragh it was the soft ground. I felt we didn’t see the best of him.

La Barrosa and William Buick (centre) winning the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket

“He travelled well into the race but couldn’t pick up on that ground. He’s come out of the race well, and deserves to be in the line-up.”

Appleby will also be two-handed in the Jersey Stakes, with Naval Crown and Creative Force.

“Naval Crown is going to drop to seven for the Jersey,” he said.

“As we saw in Dubai, he’s got a lot of natural pace. He lost nothing in defeat on his first run back in the Free Handicap, and ran a gallant race in the Guineas.

“The pace angle is very much his forte.

“We might step Creative Force up from six to seven to run him in the Jersey as well.

“On what he has achieved he deserves to be at Ascot. On his pedigree, there is no reason why he shouldn’t step up to seven.”

Lazuli and William Buick leading en route to victory in the Betfair Palace House Stakes at Newmarke

Appleby is excited at giving New Science his chance in the Chesham Stakes, following a smooth victory on his debut at Yarmouth.

“New Science is on target to run in the Chesham after his first start,” added the Godolphin handler.

“Physically he’s done well for his run. He had an easy week but is in full work now. We are looking forward to taking him to Ascot.”

One horse unlikely to go to Ascot is the sprinter Lazuli, who will instead head to Sandown for the Coral Charge and then the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood.

“We didn’t enter him for the King’s Stand but we could supplement him if we need to. He’ll probably go back to Sandown for the Coral Charge,” said Appleby.

“We’ll work back from Goodwood – the five there might suit him. If the Battaash we know turns up, he’ll be very hard to beat.

“We didn’t make the entry at Ascot, because we didn’t feel he was up to that level just yet.”

Master Of The Seas is back in work after suffering a setback which ruled him out of Royal Ascot. The Prix du Moulin is seen as a likely target for the 2000 Guineas runner-up, before a possible tilt at the Breeders’ Cup.

“Master Of The Seas resumed back into work last week,” said Appleby.

“He’ll build up day by day, week by week, now. We were pointing him towards Goodwood for the Sussex, but I felt the track would not quite suit him there.

“The Prix du Moulin is a more realistic target. Long-term the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar will be tailor made for him.”

Appleby revealed Althiqa and Summer Romance, who gave him a one-two in the Grade One Just A Game Stakes at Belmont on Saturday, are to stay in America for the Diana at Saratoga on July 17.

“They are two great fillies to have in the yard,” he said.

“They are going to stay out there in Belmont for another week and then go ship to Saratoga and take in the Diana and step them up to nine furlongs.

“As we know, that is in Summer Romance’s realm. It stretched Althiqa in Meydan, but the pace over there might suit her.”