Zonderland bids for Sovereign
View from connections ahead of the totepool Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury on Thursday.
Zonerland bids to give Clive Cox back to back wins in the Sovereign Stakes
Clive Cox feels Zonderland has a good chance of giving him back-to-back victories in the totepool Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury on Thursday.
The Lambourn trainer took this Group Three prize 12 months ago with a three-year-old, Kodi Bear, and is having another crack at the Sovereign with a horse of that age.
Zonderland is no slouch, having run a creditable race to finish sixth in the 2000 Guineas on his seasonal debut despite not handling the Dip at Newmarket before going on to land the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown.
Things did not go right when he stepped back up to Group One level in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly a month ago, but Cox reports Zonderland to be firing on all cylinders again.
"I'm looking forward to it very much. He didn't get the best of runs in France last time after banging his head on the stalls," said Cox.
"He's had a healthy time between races and the track should be very suitable.
"Similar to Kodi Bear, he gets a nice weight-for-age allowance against the older horses which we can hopefully take advantage of."
Massaat finished four and a quarter lengths ahead of Zonderland when runner-up in the Guineas.
The Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt has not run since failing to stay the trip in the Investec Derby, but connections feel this race represents a good opportunity for him to show his true colours.
"I think in time he probably will stay further than a mile. I was speaking to Sheikh Hamdan when he was over for the July meeting and we both agreed on that," said trainer Owen Burrows.
"But we know he's top-class over a mile and, all being well, he'll be in training at four so we can step him back up in trip then.
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"At the moment we may as well stick to what we know he is good at and hopefully build his confidence back up.
"He's been second in two Group Ones but is still only a maiden winner so it will be a nice race to win with him."
The other three-year-old taking on his elders is Tony Curtis, trained by Richard Hannon.
Fourth in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April, Tony Curtis only returned to action at Glorious Goodwood where he was fifth to Thikriyaat.
"It was a massive run in the Craven. He ran a bit gassy and down the hill probably took me on a bit too much. His run just petered out in the last 100 yards," his jockey Sean Levey told At The Races.
"He had a bit of a setback after the Craven and had some time off, but the race didn't go to plan at Goodwood.
"He ran on at the end and it was eyecatching. With that behind him, he's come on again and I think he'll have a big chance."
The Andrew Balding-trained Tullius bids to win this race for a second time, having beaten Sovereign Debt, who lines-up again, four years ago.
Visored for the first time, the eight-year-old got off the mark for this campaign with a game short-head verdict over Decorated Knight in the Group Three Diomed Stakes at Epsom for which he is penalised 3lb.
"He's in good nick. It's a shame the ground looks like being a shade quick which is a slight question mark," said Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds.
"He was a different horse with the visor on last time, so hopefully he can run well.
"He's got a 3lb penalty which isn't very helpful and it is a very good race. The three-year-olds will be hard to beat.
"He won the corresponding race four years ago which would be some achievement if he could come back and win it again.
"He's very well and he'll run his race. As long as the ground is safe, he'll run."
Pattern-race regular Master Carpenter takes his chance for the Rod Millman stable on the back of a third place in a Listed heat over this distance at Pontefract.
"He's been knocking on the door this year. He's the type of horse that tries very hard for you," said his rider Freddie Tylicki.
"He's very genuine and I'm looking forward to it."
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