Awtaad, easy winner of Saturday’s Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh, looks likely to head to Royal Ascot rather than have a tilt at the Derby.
Veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast, 83, had said he thought Awtaad had enough stamina in his pedigree to be tried over a mile and a half at Epsom after he beat English 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold two and a half lengths.
But the shorter St James’s Palace Stakes, like the Guineas over run over a mile, always seemed the more logical target and that is where owner Sheik Hamdan al Maktoum would prefer Awtaad to go.
The decision easier to make as Sheik Hamdan also has Owen Burrows-trained 2,000 Guineas runner-up Massaat being prepared for Epsom.
Angus Gold, the owner’s racing manager, said: ‘Sheik Hamdan said we will let the dust settle but I think, having now beaten the English Guineas winner over a mile, it would be hard to jump him straight to a mile and a half with Ascot around the corner
‘I thought he won on Saturday fair and square. He has the speed of a Classic winning miler and is already a really valuable horse. If he can also win a St James’s Palace Stakes he will be a very attractive proposition from a stallion point of view.’
Massaat worked over a mile and a quarter at Burrow’s Lambourn stable on Sunday under big-race jockey Paul Hanagan.
Gold added: ‘No-one will be able to say whether he will stay a mile and a half until he gets to Epsom but Paul was happy with the horse and felt he gave him indications he would stay. They got the impression he was still galloping on well at the end.’
Meanwhile, Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer is ploughing on with plans to run Galileo Gold in the St James’s Palace Stakes, feeling the soft ground at the Curragh did not suit Frankie Dettori’s mount.
Palmer said: ‘He came home sound and ate up and he is very well – he’s genuinely never been better, which is a huge relief..
‘He had to put more effort into the race than he has in any of his previous races. He blew for five or six minutes after Newmarket and he was blowing for nearly half an hour after yesterday, which gives you an idea of how hard he tried on ground he hated.
‘He lost seven kilos, which is four more than he lost at Newmarket, but he’s bright and well and happy.
‘We won’t know how much of a stain the race has left on him until he runs again, but being a fit, strong horse, I hope he takes it in his stride.
‘All being well we’ll head to the St James’s Palace, where hopefully he’ll encounter ground that will suit him better. Bring it on.’