Churchill primed for Dewhurst

View from connections ahead of the Group One Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

Churchill (right) is in good form ahead of the Dewhurst

Churchill is reported "in good form" as he bids to cement his place as champion European two-year-old colt with what would be his finest hour in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

The son of Galileo has gone through the ranks with some precision after being beaten on his debut at the Curragh in May.

After winning the battle for the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, Churchill was then victorious in the Group Three Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown before conquering the opposition in the Group Two Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.

He went on to greater glory with his first Group One triumph in the National Stakes back at the Curragh on September 11.

Duty calls again for Churchill as O'Brien tries to win this Group One showpiece for a fifth time and his inmate strives to enhance his position as a serious Classic contender for 2017.

"He seems to be in good form since the last day at the Curragh," said the Ballydoyle trainer.

"He seems to handle all types of ground and we're happy with him."

O'Brien also runs Lancaster Bomber, who has acted as pacemaker for the stable first string in the past.

Andrew Balding is hoping South Seas will not be inconvenienced by the expected faster conditions as he seeks to retain his 100 per cent record.

The Lope De Vega colt, owned by Qatar Racing, has looked highly promising on slower ground and his win in the Solario Stakes was given a boost when runner-up Salouen finished second in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly on Sunday.

"The horse is really well. He's been working well and we're looking forward to seeing him run again," said Balding.

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"Obviously it's another step up in class, but he's answered every question we've asked of him so far. It's a very strong race on slightly different ground conditions, more than likely, that he will have to encounter.

"Hopefully, he'll handle those and run a big race."

William Haggas on Rivet "He's done everything right so far. He's fully entitled to have a shot at this. I have already run into Churchill once and he was very impressive that day. But all of his form is on ground that was slower than good."
William Haggas on Rivet

Rivet is another exciting colt who fulfilled the expectations of his trainer William Haggas when winning the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month.

"He's done everything right so far," said Haggas.

"He won his maiden comfortably and then he won a Group Two not as comfortably, but it was a big step up. He's fully entitled to have a shot at this.

"He's always been a fluent mover, he's a nice horse with a great temperament. Personally, I see Rivet as a miler. When he won over seven last time, Andrea (Atzeni) felt he took a long time to pull him up.

"I have already run into Churchill once, in the National Stakes (with third-placed Lockheed), and he was very impressive that day.

"But all of his form is on ground that was slower than good."

Haggas saddled Bog Trotter to finish second in 1990 after winning the Champagne Stakes and said: "He got done on the line and I was distraught at the time – he got done by a pretty exposed 50-1 shot who turned out to be (dual Derby and King George winner) Generous!"

Gimcrack winner Blue Point has a second crack in Group One company after suffering a surprise defeat at the hands of The Last Lion in the Middle Park Stakes two weeks ago.

That race was over six furlongs and connections of the Godolphin-owned colt are keen to see if he stays the extra furlong.

Trainer Charlie Appleby told At The Races: "First and foremost, the horse came out of the race very well. We were very pleased with what we saw when he did his last piece of work on the Limekilns.

"The trip is the obvious big question mark. If he doesn't stay on Saturday, we'll work back from the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot."

Godolphin are also represented by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow, who was only narrowly beaten by Rivet at Doncaster.

Seven Heavens takes a hike in grade as he puts his perfect record on the line.

The son of Frankel has created a big impression in winning his first two starts at Ascot and Goodwood and connections of the John Gosden-trained colt are happy to pitch him in at the deep end.

"Obviously it's a big step up for him," said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah.

"It will be only his third start, but he came out of his Goodwood race very well and has been going nicely. He deserves his chance. We're happy with him at the moment."

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