Royal Ascot hero Berkshire Shadow puts his unbeaten record and tall reputation on the line in the Unibet Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
A narrow winner on his racecourse debut at Newbury in the spring, Andrew Balding’s juvenile successfully stepped up to Group Two level on just his second career start when running out an impressive winner of the Coventry Stakes.
The Dark Angel colt steps up to seven furlongs for his latest assignment on Tuesday, with the rain-softened ground on the Sussex Downs his trainer’s only concern.
Balding said: “The likelihood is he’s going to encounter different ground conditions to what he did at Ascot, which is an unknown, but I’m very happy with the horse – and I think the extra furlong will suit him well.
“It was a very good performance in the Coventry, and likewise first time out he was very impressive.
“He’s obviously a horse with a huge amount of talent. It was always the intention to step up to seven furlongs after Ascot, and I hope if he handles the ground he’ll go very well.”
Berkshire Shadow’s biggest threat appears to be the Richard Hannon-trained Lusail.
The son of Mehmas proved his stamina when winning over seven furlongs at Newmarket in June, before dropping back to six to win the Group Two July Stakes three weeks ago.
Hannon, who also saddles outsider Secret Strength, said: “Obviously Lusail has been over seven before, so that’s a plus for him.
“He’s got a decent draw (stall three), and if he handles the ground he’ll go very close. I hope he’ll handle the ground, but you never know until you try.
“The other horse is no mug. He’s got plenty of ability, and if he goes in the ground he could run a big race.”
The Nick Bradley Racing-owned Eldrickjones has ground to make up on both Berkshire Shadow and Lusail, having filled the runner-up spot in the Coventry and finished fifth in the July Stakes.
“I’d be hopeful we could at least finish a bit closer to Berkshire Shadow, based on the fact I think we were on a less favoured part of the track than the winner at Ascot,” said Bradley.
“I think the step up to seven furlongs will be a help for us, and probably a help for him as well.
“Lusail is probably the one to beat, in my opinion. But with horses like this, there’s only so many races you can go for – and I’ve had this race in mind for some time for our horse.”
Aidan O’Brien’s The Acropolis, the Ralph Beckett-trained Angel Bleu and Austrian Theory from Mark Johnston’s yard complete the line-up.
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