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Asfoora expected to strip fitter for King Charles III clash

Asfoora expected to strip fitter for King Charles III clash
Asfoora expected to strip fitter for King Charles III clash

Henry Dwyer is confident Asfoora will be primed to perfection when she carries the hopes of Australia on her shoulders in the King Charles III Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot.

The Antipodean raiders have fared well in the big sprint events at the Royal meeting in recent years, with Choisir’s King’s Stand/Golden Jubilee double in 2003 paving the way for the Southern Hemisphere speedsters to regularly showcase their talent in Berkshire.

Chris Waller’s Nature Strip is the most recent to get his name on the roll of honour and although Coolangatta disappointed when well fancied 12 months ago, Asfoora is high up in the bookmakers’ lists following an encouraging introduction to UK racing when fourth in Haydock’s Temple Stakes.

Housed at Amy Murphy’s Southgate Stables in Newmarket for the summer, Dwyer admits he was only satisfied with his mare’s appearance on Merseyside, but takes plenty of comfort from the fact he left plenty to work on and expects a sharper model to head to the start at the summer showpiece later this month.

“I thought it was only a pass mark, nothing more, nothing less,” said Dwyer of Asfoora’s Haydock run.

“Although I might be being a bit hard on her and it was a heavy track by our standards.

“We had not done an awful lot of work with her and she was always going to need the run. Just that little hill at the end there, she got to the half-furlong marker and was probably just getting the staggers – and then as soon as that little hill came up, she really tired the last 100 (metres).

“Fitness-wise, she just wasn’t there first time, but she’s got three weeks between runs, we’ll give her a good couple of gallops and she should be at the mark.”

Dwyer anticipates meeting many of his Haydock rivals once again at Ascot and with the daughter of Flying Artie growing into her surroundings at her temporary Newmarket base, he believes the five-year-old will have reached peak fitness by the time some of the best sprinters around lock horns on June 18.

He continued: “I don’t feel the field will be that different to what she faced at Haydock and there might be a few extras there – Big Evs and a couple of those who came through the five-furlong race in Ireland the other day.

“By and large though, it will probably be a similar field and I think she will have more improvement to come than anything else in that race.

“They had all had a couple of runs and she was a little underdone compared to what she would normally be first time up due to it being a different environment and not knowing how much to do with her compared to back in Australia.”

Although being the next port of call, Royal Ascot is not the sole objective of Asfoora’s jaunt to the other side of the world.

Whereas many of her contemporaries have returned to Australia following the highlight of the British summer, Asfoora will remain in Newmarket, with races such as the King George at Goodwood and York’s Nunthorpe Stakes on the radar, at tracks she is predicted to thrive by her handler.

“I really think she will be suited by the flatter tracks at Goodwood and York later in the season,” Dwyer told the PA news agency.

“I think she will run really well at Ascot and I can see her finishing top three or top four, but I think she will be a lot better suited in the races after that.

“To win the five-furlong race at Ascot, you really need a six-furlong horse and I don’t think she is that. She is very honest and will be a lot better for that first run at Haydock, so she will be competitive though.”

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