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King’s Gambit could head to Sky Bet York Stakes next



King’s Gambit could head to Sky Bet York Stakes next

The Sky Bet York Stakes has emerged as a potential next port of call for King’s Gambit following his luckless defeat at Royal Ascot last week.

Harry Charlton’s Saxon Warrior colt was a hot favourite for Thursday’s Hampton Court Stakes after routing his rivals in the London Gold Cup at Newbury, but connections were left wondering what might have been after he charged home from an unpromising position to finish a close second to Brian Meehan’s Jayarebe.

King’s Gambit already holds an entry in the Group Two Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket over a mile and a half, but he could instead stick to a mile and a quarter and seek compensation on the Knavesmire on July 27.

“Take nothing away from Brian’s horse, who is a lovely horse. He won the race and we can’t forget that,” Charlton told Sky Sports Racing. “From the moment the gates opened William (Buick) was never able to get where he wanted to, we were a long way back and even in the straight we got a bump or two. He made up an exceptional amount of ground and was closing the winner down, but it was just too much of an effort for him.

“He’s run with huge credit and we’re very proud of him, but had things panned out a little differently in the first two furlongs, I’m sure a victory was possible for him. In that sense it’s frustrating, but we need to be realistic and say that’s racing – and he’s a horse to look forward to.”

Considering future plans, Charlton added: “He’s in the Group Two at Newmarket against older horses. It’s a possible, that’s obviously up in trip, and he might stay at 10 furlongs, so maybe something like the Sky Bet at York is a possibility.

“There are a few other races – there are some three-year-old only 10-furlong races at Deauville in August – but I suspect we might be leaning towards York. We’ll discuss it with Mohammed Jaber (owner) once we’ve got through this week and just see how he’s come out of the race. I think when you go and run a big effort like that, it takes more out of you than you think because you’ve run a lot further than some other horses and made up a lot of ground.”

Charlton saddled just four horses across the five-day meeting, striking gold with Hand Of God in Saturday’s Golden Gates Stakes after Kikkuli had pushed Haatem to a short head in the Jersey Stakes earlier that afternoon. His only runner not placed was Roarin’ Success in the Kensington Palace Stakes and she effectively lost all chance by rearing in the stalls.

The trainer admitted to having mixed emotions, saying: “You go there hoping for a winner and we came away with a winner and two seconds. We have to be delighted, but obviously you’re always thinking what could have been. Maybe we were due another one, but it didn’t quite happen.

“Hand Of God was well handicapped on the basis that we hadn’t run him since Sandown. We went into the week thinking and hoping that we had a horse with quite a few pounds in hand and that’s how it transpired.”

He went on: “He’s got a huge stride for the size of horse he is and he’s always had a wonderful attitude. He’s a horse we’ve always liked and when you’ve got horses like King’s Gambit and Kikkuli around, it makes it a lot easier to put a gauge on where the horses are in terms of ability. He was showing plenty of ability before, so went into the week thinking he was our best chance of a win and that’s how it proved.

“I guess he’s heading for a 10lb rise, we’ll see what the handicapper does tomorrow (Tuesday) and make plans from there. He’s in the John Smith’s Cup and the weights are already out. He’s on 7st 11lb and he’ll get a 5lb penalty, but I’d be surprised if that’s enough to get in.

“He is in the valuable 10-furlong handicap at Newmarket’s July meeting for three-year-olds, that’s also an option, but Mohammed Jaber might say he wants to step up in class and he would be perfectly entitled to do so, so we’ll have a few discussions and see where we get to. He’s exciting because we haven’t got the max of him yet.”

Kikkuli is bred in the purple as a half-brother to the great Frankel by crack sire Kingman and Charlton is excited to see what the rest of the season has in store following his narrow Jersey defeat.

“I haven’t watched it back as many times as some, but I’m told before the line and after the line he was ahead,” he added. “He travelled exceptionally strong and I actually don’t think they went a great pace. Haatem is an incredible horse and has had lots of runs and for Kikkuli to run him that close is mighty impressive in what I thought was a very deep Jersey. It’s exciting to think what he might be able to do down the line.”

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