Britain’s first G1 of the season, the Coronation Cup, takes place at Newmarket on Friday (3.35pm BST) – rescheduled from Epsom as a result of the coronavirus pandemic as the Investec Derby meeting has been postponed until July.
Sponsored by Hurworth Bloodstock, the 1m4f contest features a stellar field headlined by Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath, one of the highest-rated horses in the world, last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck and defending champ Defoe – plus star stayer Stradivarius, cutting back in trip as a stepping stone to the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
Here’s what trainers of some leading contenders had to say to the QIPCO British Champions Series press team …
Shall we talk about it?
Anthony Van Dyck
“The soft ground at Ascot wasn’t the right thing to do with Anthony Van Dyck and he paid for it. The plan would be to keep him on good ground and he’s doing everything right at the moment. I don’t know much about the mile and a half at Newmarket, but I would imagine you would need to get the trip very well.”
Aidan O’Brien (trainer)
“Defoe’s a horse who tells you when he’s right and he’s giving us the right messages. He’s on his racing weight, he’s come good in his skin and he seems to have a bounce with him. He’s tuned in for the race, but it might take a career-best to win it because the race looks a touch stronger this year.
“He seemed to really love Epsom last year, when he put it to bed in a few strides and won going away. But, saying that, he’s run well at Newmarket the couple of times he’s performed there and I don’t think the track holds too many fears for him.
“It was a very pleasing run [in Dubai]. It was a messy race and he probably should have won on another day. I thought he would come on considerably for that run and, of course, we were looking at the Sheema Classic three weeks later. As a Sheema prep, I thought it was ideal, bar the result.
“He came home and had a few easier weeks because we knew we would not be racing until June with him, even if racing started in May. He’s ramped up the last few weeks and did a nice piece of week last week on the watered gallop. I could not be more pleased with his condition.”
Roger Varian (trainer)
“It’s lovely to have older horses like him in the yard. We saw what Blue Point did for us last year and we are very excited to see Ghaiyyath as a five-year-old this season. He wintered in Dubai and the plan was always to have a prep run in the Dubai Millennium, which he won very well, before going on to the Sheema Classic. He came back about six weeks ago and looks fantastic. He’s got proven form on the Rowley Mile and is in great order.”
Charlie Appleby (trainer)
• Find out more at the QIPCO British Champions Series website