Zechariah expected to show his true colours in Geoffrey Freer

Horse Racing

Below-par effort at Newmarket could have come too soon after Royal Ascot.

Royal Ascot runner-up Zechariah bids to bounce back from a disappointing run at Newmarket in the BetVictor Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

The Nathaniel colt, who proved too strong for subsequent Irish Derby hero Westover at Newbury last season, was beaten a nose by Eldar Eldarov in the Queen’s Vase in June and was subsequently sent off favourite for the Bahrain Trophy at the July meeting.

Martyn and Freddie Meade’s charge had to settle for a slightly underwhelming fourth place at Headquarters, but hopes are high that he can get back on the winning trail this weekend.

“We’re really excited about running him,” said Freddie Meade.

“You can put a bit of a line through his last run at Newmarket, I think that was trainer error – we ran him back too soon after Ascot.

“We found out as a two-year-old not too run him back too quick, but he seemed to be bouncing after Ascot. Unfortunately when we got to the races he just wasn’t himself.

“We’ve been happy with him since and hopefully he goes to Newbury with a very good chance.”

Zechariah is the only three-year-old in a field of five declared for the Group Three contest, with the quintet headed by the Ismail Mohammed-trained Away He Goes.

Another previous course winner, the six-year-old drops in class and distance after finishing fifth in the Goodwood Cup last month.

Mohammed said: “He is in great form, good shape. It is our plan to run in the Group Three this weekend and then off to Australia.

“If he does well on Saturday, I think he will go and race in Australia.”

Outbox (Archie Watson), Universal Order (David Simcock) and Silence Please (Andrew Balding) are the other hopefuls.

The Denford Stakes, a seven-furlong Listed contest for two-year-olds, has also attracted five runners.

The likely favourite is Charlie Appleby’s Victory Dance, who was beaten just a head by Isaac Shelby in Newmarket’s Superlative Stakes five weeks ago, while Candle Of Hope (Richard Hughes), Ferrari Queen (Charlie and Mark Johnston) and Cite d’Or (Harry Eustace) all protect unbeaten records.

The latter filly is sent back into action relatively quickly following an impressive debut performance at Brighton last week.

Eustace said: “It looks a deep race, but she is French-bred and there are some races over there closing next week, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a gauge of her level at this stage.

“It’s a restricted race, which helps us a little bit and I hope we will learn plenty about her on Saturday.

“What she beat on debut is still questionable, but what is encouraging is she did quite a bit wrong and still won, which is quite pleasing to see, and you never quite know what the step forward could be. It will be nice to find out.”

Windsor winner Bluelight Bay (Eve Johnston Houghton), fifth in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood on his latest appearance, also features.

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