Middleham Park aiming to put a ring on Ascot success

Richard Hannon’s sprinter is looking for an elusive first Group win.

Connections believe popular colt Shouldvebeenaring has “unfinished business” in Pattern races as they target Royal Ascot glory in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes.

The four-year-old has been knocking on the door for Group-class triumphs ever since making the step up from Listed company after his victory in the King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket in May 2023.

His near-misses include a second in the Sandy Lane Stakes on his next run, before returning to Haydock last September to be beaten by a neck in the Sprint Cup behind Regional.

A third in the Group One Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs at ParisLongchamp followed in October, while more recently the Richard Hannon-trained colt was a nose behind Mill Stream at York on his penultimate start.

Shouldvebeenaring, right, has had several near-misses in Group company over the last 13 months (Tim Goode/PA)

That run gives his owners plenty of optimism regarding another strong performance at the Royal meeting, where Shouldvebeenaring aims to improve on his seventh-place finish in last year’s renewal of the Commonwealth Cup.

“You can imagine that slightly patient tactics at Ascot could work,” said Tom Palin, of Middleham Park Racing.

“He didn’t disgrace himself by any stretch of the imagination in the Commonwealth Cup last year, I just think we were drawn on the wrong side, so there is a bit of unfinished business at Ascot.

“But really his season revolves around the six-and-a-half-furlong French Group One (Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in August) and going back to Haydock for that Sprint Cup, where we really do have unfinished business in that Group One against Regional.

“Those are probably his two Derbys for the year, but absolutely the Jubilee will be his next run and we’re looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

“If we have a bit of pace on our side, hopefully we can come and pick them up late on – and normally it’s not a bad thing to do at Ascot.”

Globetrotting Brave Emperor returns to British soil for the first time since finishing down the field in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot last year.

Successes in France, Germany, Italy and Qatar have earned the Archie Watson-trained four-year-old an entry in the Queen Anne Stakes this time around.

Malc, trained by Richard Fahey, will renew his rivalry with Elite Status in the Commonwealth Cup at the same venue where he beat him by half a length when second in the Norfolk Stakes 12 months ago.

Middleham Park are also enthused by two-year-old Glorious Kitty, who came fourth on debut in the Marygate at York for Mick and David Easterby last month, as she makes her second career start in Berkshire.

Palin said of Brave Emperor: “He is thoroughly deserving of a stab at these sorts of races.

“He’s earned his right to have a go the hard way by doing Listed races, Group Threes and Group Twos in far-flung places, so there’s not a more deserving horse to roll the dice in one of these English Group Ones.

“And as you saw in the Lockinge, it is a wide-open division, and who knows, he might be able to get loose rolling away at the front end in the same way Audience did and he might just stay there, we know he’s a tough horse to go past.”

On Malc, Palin added: “He was second in the Norfolk last year, so he’s got previous at Ascot.

“He’s had his little ailments at the end of his two-year-old career, but I felt the way the race panned out in the Carnarvon at Newbury, again we were just drawn this side and we were the best of anything drawn that side by quite a long way.

“I know Elite Status looked mighty impressive that day and he was always held in high regard, but we did beat him at Ascot last year and I feel that if you change the draw, at least put us over that side, we would have definitely given Elite Status something to think about.

“The way that Ascot pans out for the likes of Malc, just a little more patient tactics, I expect him to be quite a live 66-1 each-way shot.”

Speaking about Glorious Kitty, he said: “She will either go for the Queen Mary or the Albany. She ran fourth in the Marygate on debut, so she’s a hugely exciting horse with Mick and Dave Easterby.”

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