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St James’s Palace poised to be crowning glory for clash of the Classic winners

St James’s Palace poised to be crowning glory for clash of the Classic winners
St James’s Palace poised to be crowning glory for clash of the Classic winners

Rosallion will face the “biggest test of his life” when he bids to turn the tables on his 2000 Guineas conqueror Notable Speech in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

This Group One event has often been the scene of a rematch from the opening Classic of the season and 10 years ago Rosallion’s trainer Richard Hannon watched Kingman gain revenge on his very own Newmarket hero Night Of Thunder at the Royal meeting.

Now it is the Everleigh handler seeking redemption for his star colt having lost bragging rights in the one-mile division on the Rowley Mile.

Rosallion did get his own Classic on the board when successful at the Curragh last month, but it is Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten son of Dubawi that poses the acid test for a horse Hannon has always held in the highest regard.

“We’ve been delighted with him since his win in the Irish Guineas and physically he looks like he has come on again,” said Hannon ahead of a race billed as one of the best of the meeting.

“I really couldn’t be happier with him, and like everyone I’m really looking forward to the race – it looks a fantastic race.

“I would rather be drawn one than the outside and I think that will be fine, there are no excuses from there.

“This is probably the biggest test of his life and he will have to be at his very best to win it. Whatever wins this will be an extremely good horse and I think there are probably four of five extremely good horses in there.”

Connections of Notable Speech are respectful of the challenge Rosallion presents, in a race that could firmly establish the one-mile pecking order, with Mario Baratti’s French 2000 Guineas scorer Metropolitan also in the mix.

“We’re always going to be wary of Rosallion because A) he’s a Group One winner and a Classic winner and B) he’s a son of Blue Point and we know what he could bring to Ascot – it was his favourite track,” said Appleby in a preview video on the Godolphin X account.

“We’re also being joined by the French Guineas winner, so it’s going to be a fascinating race, but we’re very pleased with our horse, the way he’s going it – he’s ticked every box.

“It’s billed to be the race of the week and let’s hope it is. We’re very much there with a horse that’s in great order.”

Big-race jockey William Buick is no doubt about Notable Speech’s powers of acceleration ahead of the British Champion Series contest.

William Buick all smiles with Notable Speech at Newmarket
William Buick all smiles with Notable Speech at Newmarket (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Buick said: “I don’t like to compare horses, but I’ve never ridden one before who can do what Notable Speech can do. He’s an extraordinary horse, and the way he won the Guineas was impressive.

“He’d had an unconventional preparation, but he’d shown a very good turn of foot in his last win at Kempton and he’d worked on the grass at Newmarket since then. He’s a very uncomplicated and laid-back character who does what he needs to. So far he’s shown no chinks.”

As well as Metropolitan, the French three-year-olds are also represented by Jerome Reynier’s Darlinghurst who brings smart form to the table and appears an improving colt.

The son of Dark Angel is unbeaten in four starts this season and having accounted for French Derby runner-up First Look when claiming the Group Three Prix de Guiche, has few scars of battle as he takes his place in this red-hot event.

“He hasn’t really had any tough battles or Classic races, so this is going to be like we say in France, his Arc,” said Reynier.

“I guess this became the plan when he won his Class Two in Cagnes-Sur-Mur. The times and the speed of his turn of foot was quite impressive and we said after that we would give him two months off and go for the Prix de Guiche on turf and then if he wins that we would aim to go to Royal Ascot with a chance.

“The way he won the Prix de Guiche with Christophe Soumillon on board was quite impressive and the form has been quite strong with First Look.”

Aidan O’Brien saddled Paddington to take home this prize 12 months ago and will have his first chance of the week to record his 400th Flat winner at the highest level when he saddles both Henry Longfellow and Unquestionable.

Henry Longfellow will be the mount of Ryan Moore
Henry Longfellow will be the mount of Ryan Moore (Damien Eagers/PA)

Both were top-class operators at two, with the former striking in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes and the latter at the Breeders’ Cup.

However, they struggled to land a blow in their respective early-season Classic assignments and are now required to bounce back to their very best against elite opposition.

“We’ve been very happy with Henry Longfellow since France and everything has gone well – we have just put the French race down as a bit of a non-event really,” O’Brien told Racing TV.

“It was our first run and we were just feeling our way really, but he came out of it well and we have been very happy with his work since. This was always his target after France and we’re looking forward to seeing him run again.

Unquestionable is a useful second string for Aidan O'Brien
Unquestionable is a useful second string for Aidan O’Brien (PA)

“We always thought the world of this horse, but obviously it is a very good race and that is what everybody wants and we’re delighted about. We’re all going to learn about all of them really, but we’re very happy and we wouldn’t be running if we weren’t happy and prepared to put him in there with a fighting chance.”

On Unquestionable, he added: “He ran a very solid race at the Curragh and was always going to improve from that, he’s a very solid horse.

“Obviously this was always going to be his second run and he was running at the Curragh with an eye on Ascot as well.”

Ed Walker’s Heron Stakes winner Almaqam and Owen Burrows’ 2000 Guineas fifth Alyanaabi complete the field for one of the opening day’s feature events.

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