By Jon Lees
GB: French St Leger winner Technician could miss the first G1 of Britain’s delayed Flat turf season, the Coronation Cup, to wait for his main early target, the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Trainer Martyn Meade will monitor the going at Newmarket, where conditions are good to firm, but unless there is rain the grey is unlikely to make Friday’s Coronation Cup, which has been rerouted from Epsom this year.
“I don’t think it is looking great to be honest,” said Meade. “I thought about the Sagaro Stakes at Newcastle but in that he would have to carry a penalty so I think the Coronation would be a nice idea if we got good ground. But if not, we will just go straight to the Gold Cup.”
Technician, who races for US-based partnership specialists Team Valor, finished 2019 with a flourish. After finishing sixth in the St Leger at Doncaster, he recorded wins in the G2 Prix Chaudenay and G1 Prix Royal-Oak (French St Leger), both run on testing ground.
“The ground that day was absolutely bottomless,” said Meade. “He won’t get that again, but he has strengthened up even from then. It was really fast ground in the St Leger but the trip was a bit short for him.
“He is certainly better on soft ground but he has been working on good, good to firm ground, here at home and doing it terribly well. I think at Ascot, even if it is on the firm side of good, at least it is over a proper distance so he has plenty of time to settle.
“He will start there fresh so if we have to find out about him on that firmer surface I would rather do it at Ascot, than Newmarket where a mile and a half could be a bit quick for him.”
In the Royal-Oak, Technician beat Call The Wind, winner of the $2.5 million Longines Turf Handicap on the Saudi Cup card in February and a G3 prize in France last month.
The 2m4f distance of the Gold Cup would be a new test for Technician but Meade believes he will be equal to it. “I think it is a challenge he would relish,” said Meade.
“In the Royal-Oak he was running on better than anything else and the form is proving very strong. Way To Paris, who was sixth, won a G2 yesterday, and Call The Wind has done well. The main thing is that you need a horse that will switch off and that’s what he does.”
Technician hit last year’s peak under Pierre-Charles Boudot, who will remain first-choice rider this season. “He is quite keen to do whatever is necessary and he has clearance to come if he did run at Newmarket,” Meade added.
“But being realistic Ascot is going to be the first port of call and, because of Technician’s penchant for softer ground, his main campaign is really going to be later on in the year.”