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Harry Charlton on his 2024 Royal Ascot team including King’s Gambit



Harry Charlton on his 2024 Royal Ascot team including King’s Gambit

As England prepare for their Euro 2024 curtain raiser against Serbia on Sunday trainer Harry Charlton hopes his own equine five-a-side team can find the back of the net at Royal Ascot next week.

Although not taking a squad boasting vast numbers, what the 38 year old will be sending to the five-day meeting, which begins on Tuesday, is a small, but select team, all which have lively chances in their respective races.

The father of two is no stranger to walking back into the hallowed winner’s enclosure at the Berkshire track having celebrated victory in the 2022 Britannia Stakes with Thesis as joint licence holder alongside his dad, and now retired, Classic winning handler Roger.

But victory at the Royal meeting this year would be a watershed moment for Charlton in his first season as the sole licence holder at Beckhampton Stables.

And given the potential among his team there is every chance of a first solo success at the meeting heading his way.

Charlton said: “Of course it is exciting, although maybe it doesn’t feel that different to me being a trainer in my own right, but from the outside it is important that it is my name on the licence.

“Luckily we have got the right calibre of horses to take to the meeting. I’m very content with the team we are taking there and I’m now excited to go there with a few chances.

“As it gets nearer you are waking up trying to work out which jockeys will ride what and things like that, but we are almost set to go now.”

Heading up Charlton’s team at the Royal meeting is last month’s impressive Trade Nation London Gold Cup winner King’s Gambit, who will take the step up into pattern company in the Group Three Hampton Court Stakes on Thursday.

Despite being hiked up a total of 14lbs for that Newbury success, the form of which has already been boosted by the fourth Persica winning at Epsom earlier this month, Charlton is confident of a big run in the mile and a quarter test.

Charlton said: “I think the form of his Newbury run is rock solid. He picked up quickly, and they tell me the time was very impressive.

“It looks a natural step going into the Hampton Court. We expect some decent horses to be there, as you would, but I assume he would be close to being favourite for it because his win last time was very taking.

“If you look at his form lines from the year before it suggests he should have been rated higher than 93.

“He was naturally well handicapped on the basis that he hadn’t run and all the others had run and improved.

“I was more happy with how well he behaved and how switched on he was as last year he was bit all over the place and he didn’t know what he was doing.

“I thought he jumped straight into the bridle, relaxed, and picked up when William (Buick) wanted him to pick up. He looked a much more complete racehorse at Newbury.

“This is the first time he would have run at Ascot, and there will be a big crowd, but he is getting more professional each week. I’d be confident he will handle the occasion.”

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While there is plenty of optimism surrounding the chances of King’s Gambit it could be a case of saving the best until last with bet365 Esher Cup hero Hand Of God set to take a step up to a mile and a quarter in the Golden Gates Stakes on Saturday.

Charlton said: “I think we got away with one at Sandown as he was running over a mile at two. He has got a bit of stamina on the dam’s side so this trip should suit him well.

“The Esher Cup was really a prep race for the London Gold Cup, but we thought we would leave him until Ascot as the three pounds he picked up there should chuck him in at the bottom of the weights at the Golden Gates.

“He is an exciting horse that we have always liked. Off a mark of 91 he should be competitive.

“Him and King’s Gambit are very similar horses. They live next door to each other and they do a lot of work together and they are 10 furlong three year-olds in that similar category.

“Let’s hope he has some pounds left in hand to show on the course.”

Taking to the track first at the meeting for Charlton will be Roarin’ Success, who will contest Wednesday’s Kensington Palace Stakes over a mile.

And despite having to settle for second best on both of her two starts this season Charlton believes the daughter of Roaring Lion could still be attractively handicapped of a mark of 85 over a course and distance she has already been successful over.

Charlton said: “She ran well the other day when she was second at Doncaster behind a horse of Ed and Simon Crisfiord’s (Twirling) which is also in this race.

“She has a great record at Ascot as she was second there the time before last and she was a winner at the track last year. The galloping mile suits her.

“She only got a one pound rise for being second to Two Tempting so probably going up four pounds last time, and five in total, is probably not too harsh as it were.

“When I realised this race was on the straight track it was a race I ring marked. Had it been on the round track I don’t think it would have been galloping enough for her as she is the type that could go 10 furlongs.”

Random chance

Completely Random found only the progressive Woodhay Wonder too strong on his latest start at Newmarket, but Charlton feels the Havana Grey colt still has a ‘bit left in the tank’ ahead of his first start over five furlongs in Friday’s Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes.

Charlton said: “He only went up four pounds for finishing second the other day which I thought was quite fair on the scheme of it.

“Back to five furlongs is the quandary, but it is a flat out five, and up a hill. He showed plenty of speed mid race at Newmarket, but Tom Ward’s filly, who is hardy, and tough, battled back against him at the line.

“He is a lovely horse with a great mentality that is progressing with every month so let’s hope he hasn’t finished and there is a bit left in the tank as it were.”

Plenty of interest has already been shown in Kikkuli, who is a half brother to the mighty Frankel.

And the Kingman colt could get his own chance to shine at the Royal meeting, where his famous relation won twice during his glittering career, earlier on Friday’s card in the Group Three Jersey Stakes.

Charlton said: “We need to discuss it with Juddmonte, but there is a chance he will turn up in the Jersey Stakes. He is a very hardy horse that needs his racing.

“We appreciate that there might be some proper Group One horses in there that will be hard to beat, but he doesn’t have many other options and he is a horse that I don’t want to leave in the box.

“We think he will keep improving every time he runs so he needs exposure to racing and that looks like the most likely slot for him.

“I would have been equally happy if this was a mile, but it is obviously a stiff seven furlongs and they will go a good pace.

“There might be a bit of cut in the ground, which he handles, so it would be more like a mile than a seven furlong race.

“There are other options, like the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket the week afterwards, but he is in the mix for the Jersey Stakes.

“He has got a bit of a pedigree, and he gets a lot of attention, but he is doing well in his own right and we are proud of thus far.”

One horse that will be missing from Charlton’s team is Okeechobee, who supplied Charlton with his first pattern race success in the Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards at Sandown Park in April.

But while having to make do without the Juddmonte-owned Time Test gelding Charlton hopes he might be able to call upon his services later in the season.

He added: “Unfortunately, Okeechobee will miss the best part of the summer with the setback he has picked up which is a shame.

“It looks like it would have been a nice Prince Of Wales’s to run in with the way it has cut up.

“We will just see how he goes, but he might be out later on in the year.”

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