Big Evs back on path Appleby team hopes is paved with sprinting gold

York first up, then all systems go for Royal Ascot.

Sprinting star Big Evs makes his comeback in the British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes at York on Thursday.

The Mick Appleby-trained Blue Point colt was a huge success story as a two-year-old, winning the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot and the Molecomb at Goodwood before stepping out of the juvenile division to chance his arm on the Knavesmire in the Nunthorpe Stakes.

There he was defeated when considered to have been returned to the track too quickly after his last run, but in the Flying Childers he bounced straight back to form and his trade was then plied with great success overseas when he brought home the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Big Evs struck Breeders' Cup gold
Big Evs struck Breeders’ Cup gold (PA)

That outing at Santa Anita in November was his last sighting on a racecourse, with this Listed event now the first step in his three-year-old season, where he is either favourite or vying for favouritism in the King Charles III Stakes (formerly the King’s Stand) on the opening day of Royal Ascot.

“He’s been very well, he’s wintered well and he’s in good order,” said Appleby.

“All has been going well and we hope he’ll come out and win.

“It’s a nice place to start out, we’re just hopeful we don’t get too much more rain.

“All being well we’ll run him here and go to Royal Ascot, that’s the plan.”

Big Evs with trainer Mick Appleby and head girl Tara Belfield
Big Evs with trainer Mick Appleby and head girl Tara Belfield (Joe Giddens/PA)

Opposing him will be Marco Botti’s Sommelier, who makes his debut on turf having won twice on the all-weather at the end of last year.

The bay gelding was narrowly beaten over six furlongs at Newcastle on New Year’s Day and was last seen at the same track finishing down the field on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, which represented a rare blot on his consistent CV.

“We got it wrong at Newcastle and tried to hold him up and he ran too free,” said Alastair Donald, racing manager for owners King Power Racing.

“I think a fast five furlongs is really want he wants. We probably didn’t expect Big Evs to be in there, but this is the first time he is running on turf and I think he is probably going to be a good horse. Although he probably doesn’t want too much rain.”

Elsewhere in the race is Kylian, who makes his first start for Archie Watson having previously been trained by Karl Burke.

Kylian is having his first start for Archie Watson
Kylian is having his first start for Archie Watson (Nigel French/PA)

For Burke the Invincible Spirit colt was a Listed winner when taking the Dragon Stakes at Sandown by an eyecatching six lengths, and was also third behind Big Evs when beaten only a length and a half in the Molecomb.

Kevin Ryan’s Mon Na Slieve runs for the first time since September last year, with Clive Cox set to run Unbreak My Heart, third at Group Three level last term when beaten two lengths in the Cornwallis Stakes.

Richard Fahey’s Dark Vintage makes his second start on British turf after relocating from America and Burke’s Sports Coach completes the field.

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