By Jon Lees
GB: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner King Of Change has reportedly thrived over the winter and is likely to begin his 2020 campaign at Royal Ascot – always assuming the meeting takes place.
But for racing being suspended in Britain due to the coronavirus pandemic, the four-year-old son of Farhh would already have been in action this season in what would have been the first of two planned runs ahead of the royal meeting in June.
Although things haven’t quite worked out that way – the G1 Lockinge, for example, looks likely to be lost – trainer Richard Hannon said King Of Change would be ready whenever the suspension is lifted.
King Of Change finished second at 66-1 in last year’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas and proved the run to be no fluke by winning his next two starts, culminating in his defeat of The Revenant at Ascot in October.
“The Lockinge Stakes would have been his ideal race,” said Hannon. “He probably would have run last Friday in the G2 at Sandown, then Newbury, then Royal Ascot (for the Queen Anne Stakes).
“You don’t know what order things are going to come in now but he has wintered particularly well.”
Hannon is not considering longer trips for King Of Change. “Put it this way, he is doing nothing wrong over a mile,” he said.
Hannon also issued an update on the stable’s top three-year-old hopes Threat and Mums Tipple, who hold Classic entries.
Cheveley Park Stud-owned Threat won the G2 Gimcrack and Champagne Stakes last year before finishing fifth in the G1 Middle Park, where Mums Tipple finished two places back after a stunning performance at York where he won the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes by 11 lengths.
“They are both fine,” Hannon said. “I am planning to work them on the grass later this week depending on when the rain comes but they have wintered well and done well.
“Threat will go for the English 2,000 Guineas,” he went on. “I would imagine Mums Tipple may or may not go there or the Irish 2,000 Guineas or the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot, if it’s on.”
Although entries for the Newmarket Classics have been scrapped, entries for the Irish 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas have been retained amid hope the Curragh meeting on May 23 and 24 can still take place if restrictions in Ireland are eased.
In Britain the best-case scenario has the Guineas taking place in early June with Royal Ascot in its scheduled slot beginning on June 16 and the Derby and Oaks in July.
However, making plans remains an uncertain business, as Hannon suggested. “They will be ready to go but we need a date so we can add the finishing touches,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like there will be time for a trial.
“They have left the entries as they were for the Irish 2,000 Guineas so I have left them all in that but I don’t know if we can go to Ireland,” added Hannon.
“The talk is it might not be possible for us to go to France or Ireland or for them to come here. Nobody seems to know. We are all waiting to see what happens with the lockdown.
“In fairness to the authorities neither they nor us know what is going to happen. It’s not that the information is not coming through, it is just a fact that we don’t know when it is going to ease up.”