Little Big Bear on Haydock mission ahead of Royal Ascot tilt

Timeform's John Ingles highlights three things to watch out for this weekend.

Timeform Starman


*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.

Little Big Bear was the clear form pick in the 2,000 Guineas three weeks ago at HQ, but ran too badly to be true in trailing home last behind Chaldean and was duly found to be lame. There was clearly more to that performance than lack of stamina for the mile, though having taken a strong hold at Newmarket, Little Big Bear returns to sprinting in Saturday’s Sandy Lane Stakes to try to get his career back on track.

He proved very effective over shorter trips last year, winning his last four starts, including the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot, and putting up the best performance by a two-year-old when storming seven lengths clear to win the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh before a setback ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Greenham Stakes runner-up Charyn, another who was down the field in the 2000 Guineas, and the 1000 Guineas third Matilda Picotte are others dropping back from a mile but Little Big Bear’s chief rivals also include the likes of Al Dasim, Cold Case and Bradsell. Al Dasim continued the improvement he showed on the all-weather for George Boughey late last term back on turf in Dubai early this year where he gained a notable success against older rivals in a Group 3 contest.

Two-Year-Old Trophy winner Cold Case showed that he too has trained on when winning the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot earlier this month where last year’s Coventry Stakes winner Bradsell and Vintage Stakes winner Marbaan finished in the frame behind him. Like Little Big Bear, Bradsell had to miss the rest of the year after sustaining an injury when fourth behind that rival in the Phoenix Stakes, but he shaped encouragingly to be third at Ascot last time when just in need of the run.

Tahiyra bids for Irish 1,000 Guineas win

Sunday’s Irish 1000 Guineas entries are headed by Tahirya who finished a long way clear of the rest when going down by half a length to Mawj in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month. The 6/4 favourite couldn’t quite peg back the more experienced winner who found plenty of improvement, but Tahiyra travelled well, made smooth headway to challenge and stayed on strongly to make further progress of her own on what was just her third start.

Despite that defeat, Tahiyra remains very much the exciting prospect she’d looked at two when winning both her starts impressively, notably the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh where she swept past favourite Meditate in the closing stages. Meditate looked like being Tahyira’s main rival again at Newmarket but she finished only sixth after never getting on terms, giving the impression she’ll be all the sharper for that run.

As well as Meditate, Aidan O’Brien could also be represented by Never Ending Story, winner of the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown on her reappearance. She was a never-dangerous fifth in the French 1000 Guineas last time, shaping as though worth a try over further than a mile now. Stablemate Jackie Oh has already tried a mile and a quarter, when runner-up in a listed race at Navan last time, and given that she won her only previous start at Naas in March she can still be expected to do better.

You Send Me comes from the same family as Jackie Oh and looks the stronger of Fozzy Stack’s two entries, though she had the run of the race when going down by half a length to Power Under Me when taking on older rivals in the Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown last time.

Vadeni heads quality Tattersalls Gold Cup field

The Tattersalls Gold Cup sometimes struggles to live up to its Group 1 billing but there doesn’t look to be much danger of that this year with last seasons’s winners of the Eclipse, Champion Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes among those set to line up.

French colt Vadeni certainly adds quality to the field as he won the Prix du Jockey Club as well as the Eclipse last season and ended the year finishing an excellent second in the Arc, half a length behind Alpinista. Christophe Soumillon didn’t give him a hard race in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp on his return last month and he should be closer to his best this time.

Vadeni wasn’t seen to best effect, however, on his previous visit to Ireland for last year’s Irish Champion Stakes when he finished third behind Luxembourg. That was Luxembourg’s best effort in a three-year-old campaign interrupted by injury and he battled on well to get the better of the other French colt, Onesto, by half a length. Things didn’t go his way in the Arc and he too can be expected to come on for his reappearance when fifth in the Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh earlier this month.

Bay Bridge didn’t have the speed to cope with Vadeni in the Eclipse but he returned from a four-month break to end last season by winning the Champion Stakes on softer ground at Ascot with a near top-class performance, getting the better of Adayar and My Prospero in a tight finish with hot favourite Baaeed only fourth. Like Vadeni, Bay Bridge made his reappearance in the Ganay and he too seems sure to benefit from that run, proving a bit keen but only just failing to get up for second.

With Anmaat, winner of all three of his starts last year and runner-up to Adayar in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Newmarket on his return, and Point Lonsdale, winner of both his starts this year, including the Huxley Stakes at Chester last time, also among the entries there promises to be no lack of strength in depth to this year’s line-up.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.






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