Australia: Sunlight on course for Royal Ascot after setback

Horse racing Tony McEvoy
Tony McEvoy: trainer confident Sunlight will be ready for royal date. Photo: Racing and Sports

By Jon Lees

Australia: The chances of triple Group 1-winning sprinter Sunlight racing at Royal Ascot this summer remain alive despite the mare being ruled out of the G1 Newmarket Handicap by an injury setback.

The four-year-old, who landed three top sprints last season including the Newmarket, has undergone surgery after damaging a splint bone in a hind leg in a paddock accident.

Though Sunlight won’t be ready for a repeat run at Flemington on March 7, Tony McEvoy, who trains Sunlight in partnership with son Calvin, is confident he can plot an alternative path to get her to the royal meeting in June where she may target both the King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Sunlight had two chips removed from the bottom of the splint bone, McEvoy told AAP Racing. “The surgery went perfectly and I’ve seen quite a few of these and they have no issues,” said the trainer. “She was back under saddle today, first day. She was very fresh and very excited to be back doing what she loves doing. So it’s just going to be a slow build-up now.”

Australian sprinters have won the King’s Stand four times and the Diamond Jubilee twice. The last victory was claimed in 2012 by the great Black Caviar.

“I want to take her to Royal Ascot, so that’s the goal,” McEvoy said. “I’ve got to plan a path into that, which I haven’t done yet. I just want to get her back moving along a bit and making sure that that leg is not going to flare up, which can happen.

“If it flares up it means it’s all off and we’ve got to wait until the spring. But at this stage I’m pretty comfortable that she’s going to be fine.”

Sunlight would join an Australian team for Royal Ascot also set to feature the Chris Waller-trained pair Yes Yes Yes, winner of the Everest, and Nature Strip, who have both been nominated for the Newmarket.

Nature Strip, who was fourth in the Everest, ended 2019 with victory in the G1 Darley Sprint Classic and is being prepared for a return to action in the G1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington next month. Yes Yes Yes may target a race in Sydney.

Fellow G1 scorers Brutal and Exceedance are also being mentioned in despatches for this year’s royal meeting