Romelda Aiken-George’s New South Wales Swifts stunned Jhaniele Fowler’s defending champions West Coast Fever 65-64 to advance to the grand final of the Suncorp Super Netball League.

The Fever got out to a 19-15 lead at the end of the first quarter at the Qudos Bank Arena in New South Wales on Saturday.

An 18-16 second quarter win for the Swifts meant the deficit between the teams at half-time was just two, with the defending champions ahead 35-33.

After the third quarter, the Fever enjoyed a 51-46 lead and looked set to get a chance to defend their title.

The Swifts had other ideas, however, and produced a stunning fourth quarter comeback, outscoring the Fever 19-13 to secure the one-point win and a trip to the title decider.

Aiken-George led the way with 25 goals from 26 attempts for the Swifts while Fowler scored 55 goals from 56 attempts for the Fever.

Their opponents in the Grand Final will be the Adelaide Thunderbirds, home of Sunshine Girls Shamera Sterling and Latanya Wilson.

The Swifts will be looking for revenge after the Thunderbirds beat them 64-62 in the preliminary finals.

 

Matrika confirmed herself out as filly of considerable talent when returning to home soil to claim the Airlie Stud Stakes in convincing fashion at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s daughter of No Nay Never was a course and distance winner on debut in late May and went on to be narrowly denied by Donnacha O’Brien’s Porta Fortuna when second in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot on just her second start.

Despite this coming only eight days after her huge Ascot effort, Matrika was sent off the 2-5 favourite and proved she was a cut above her opposition in this Group Two contest.

She led those who raced on the far side with the field splitting into two groups, before stretching clear in the hands of Ryan Moore inside the final furlong, as she registered a one-and-three-quarter length victory over the keeping-on Gunzburg.

“She has a great constitution and we were very happy with her,” said O’Brien.

“The first day she ran we were surprised because she’s very lazy at home, we didn’t really know what to expect but she won.

“Then she went to Ascot and ran a lovely race, but was a little green and babyish. Obviously she learned plenty from it again.

“She came out of the race, lost no weight. She doesn’t blow at all, it takes nothing out of her – she’s very natural. Ryan gave her a lovely ride.

“She’s not slow, she has plenty of speed. Obviously you’d hope that she might get seven, because she is very relaxed, but she is No Nay Never and they have a lot of natural speed and find it very easy to go very fast.”

Matrika was cut to 14-1 from 16s by Coral for next year’s 1000 Guineas with Betfair going even further and making her an 8-1 chance for the fillies’ Classic, but O’Brien is no rush to step her up in trip.

“We’ll stay at six for a while and if we have to step up to seven we will,” continued the Ballydoyle handler.

“I don’t want to be too easy on her because she has a big backside on her and I don’t want her to get too big. We’ll have to keep her going to a point.

“She’s a Group Two winner now and there are probably not too many places we’ll be able to go with her. You’d be hoping she’s going to be a Cheveley Park filly.”

Calling The Wind finally got his moment in the spotlight when swooping to take the JenningsBet Northumberland Plate glory at Newcastle.

Richard Hughes’ consistent seven-year-old has been an ever-present in staying contests – but the big prizes had proved elusive, placing at Royal Ascot for the third year in a row when second in the Ascot Stakes most recently.

Ridden by Neil Callan in the Gosforth Park feature, the in-form rider had his mount travelling kindly in midfield early on and the 14-1 shot showed he was none the worse for his Royal meeting exertions only 11 days ago when picking his way to the front with a furlong to run.

He was quickly joined at the head of affairs by ante-post gamble Golden Rules, but the Calling The Wind always had enough in reserve to hold off the 9-2 joint-favourite, coming home half a length clear to secure the victory connections have craved in a breezy north east.

John and Thady Gosden produced a nice training performance at Newmarket, as Audience caused a small shock at 14-1 in the Cavani Menswear Fashion Face-Off Frenzy Criterion Stakes.

Only Sam Maximus was sent off a bigger price than the Cheveley Park Stud-owned four-year-old for the Group Three contest, and he arrived at the July course following 263 days off the track.

Ridden by Robert Havlin, the son of Iffraaj led Berkshire Shadow and the 5-2 favourite Aldaary on the far side as the field of six split into two, with defending champion Pogo taking along Sam Maximus and recent John of Gaunt Stakes scorer Jumby on the near side.

The runners fanned out across the track as the business end of the race approached and it was Havlin aboard Audience who seized the initiative and kept the momentum up as he set about putting the race to bed out on his own in splendid isolation.

Audience never stopped as he kept on well inside the final furlong, with little separating Jumby and Pogo who were unable to reel in the winner and finished second and third respectively when making their challenge on the near side.

John Gosden said: “It is all down to Leah Mapston, who looks after him and rides him every day. She understands the horse and she is more to do with this horse winning than the trainer – and the jockey, of course. But she has done a wonderful job.

“He has got a lot of talent, he was not right in the spring, he went off behind and we couldn’t get him quite where we wanted him, but he’s come right for a lovely race like this.

“The hood helps him a lot. It is very useful for a horse like this, as he can live a little on the edge.

“He is in a race like the Lennox (Stakes, Goodwood), but I think he enjoyed this race today on a straight track. We’ll see. We will give him a couple of nice engagements. Ryan (Moore) rode him at Ascot last year and he said this horse has really got something, but he will need a little working out.

“Rab went up that far side this morning and it is completely fresh ground. That’s a little bit of knowing your track.

“Seven furlongs is very much his trip.”

John and Thady Gosden produced a nice training performance at Newmarket, as Audience caused a small shock at 14-1 in the Cavani Menswear Fashion Face-Off Frenzy Criterion Stakes.

Only Sam Maximus was sent off a bigger price than the Cheveley Park Stud-owned four-year-old for the Group Three contest, and he arrived at the July course following 263 days off the track.

Ridden by Robert Havlin, the son of Iffraaj led Berkshire Shadow and the 5-2 favourite Aldaary on the far side as the field of six split into two, with defending champion Pogo taking along Sam Maximus and recent John of Gaunt Stakes scorer Jumby on the near side.

The runners fanned out across the track as the business end of the race approached and it was Havlin aboard Audience who seized the initiative and kept the momentum up as he set about putting the race to bed out on his own in splendid isolation.

Audience never stopped as he kept on well inside the final furlong, with little separating Jumby and Pogo who were unable to reel in the winner and finished second and third respectively when making their challenge on the near side.

John Gosden said: “It is all down to Leah Mapston, who looks after him and rides him every day. She understands the horse and she is more to do with this horse winning than the trainer – and the jockey, of course. But she has done a wonderful job.

“He has got a lot of talent, he was not right in the spring, he went off behind and we couldn’t get him quite where we wanted him, but he’s come right for a lovely race like this.

“The hood helps him a lot. It is very useful for a horse like this, as he can live a little on the edge.

“He is in a race like the Lennox (Stakes, Goodwood), but I think he enjoyed this race today on a straight track. We’ll see. We will give him a couple of nice engagements. Ryan (Moore) rode him at Ascot last year and he said this horse has really got something, but he will need a little working out.

“Rab went up that far side this morning and it is completely fresh ground. That’s a little bit of knowing your track.

“Seven furlongs is very much his trip.”

City Of Troy could have an exciting future having made an impressive debut at the Curragh on Saturday.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained two-year-old is a son of Justify out of a Group One-winning Coolmore mare and produced a performance befitting of his regal breeding when sent off the 6-4 favourite for the seven-furlong Barronstown Stud Irish EBF (C & G) Maiden.

Always close to the pace in the hands of Ryan Moore, he extended clear to register a two-and-a-half-length victory in an extremely professional manner when asked by his rider, with the nature of the success enough to see the colt introduced into next year’s 2000 Guineas market at 16-1 by Coral and Betfair.

O’Brien said: “Ryan was delighted with him. He said he was very frightened going past the winning post – he said it’s the first time he’s ever rode a two-year-old that he thought wasn’t going to pull up.

“He said going to the winning post he just started to get longer and longer in his stride and galloped down to the boards. He gave him a lovely ride.

“He has a big ,long stride and he’s relentless really. I’m delighted with him.

“He has great presence. We had his brother last year, Bertinelli, and he was a very big horse who we thought was going to be a three- or four-year-old, but this horse is made like a two- or three-year-old.

“He’s a medium-sized horse with a giant stride. He’s very unusual, his stride is kind of twice the length of his body. When he started to extend inside the furlong marker, his stride is getting longer and longer – that’s very rare.

“That’s what Justify had as well, his stride was so long and it made him very different. That’s what they (his progeny) have as well and that’s why the big ones take a bit of time.

“They are very good movers and Justify had speed as well as stamina. He’s matching great with the European mares.”

He added: “Ryan said you can go anywhere you want with him and go as far as you want.

“Obviously we have other horses to consider, but he’ll go into one of those seven-furlong races next and it depends on how far the lads want to go with him, whether they want to go up to a mile with him this year or not.”

Kemari went one better than 12 months ago to give Charlie Appleby back-to-back victories in the Cavani Menswear Sartorial Sprint Fred Archer Stakes at Newmarket.

Without a win since the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot in 2021, the son of Dubawi had to settle for second behind stablemate Rebel’s Romance last year and was again donning the white hat reserved for the Godolphin second string as fellow Moulton Paddocks challenger New London was sent off the 11-10 favourite.

James Doyle had Kemari hot on the tail of the pace-setting 2021 winner Outbox throughout the early stages of the 12-furlong contest and made his move aboard the 7-1 chance to join Outbox passing the four-furlong pole, just as William Buick was beginning to get busy aboard the returning St Leger runner-up New London.

Although New London refused to lie down and was staying on all the way to the line, it was quickly clear Outbox and Kemari had this race to fight out between them and having edged to the lead inside the final furlong, the five-year-old kept on gamely in the closing stages as he came home half a length clear, with New London a further neck adrift in third.

Appleby said: “It is nice to see him get his head back in front for the first time in two years. Bless this horse. He has not missed a beat all year – he’s led them all.

“I said to James, he is a horse who has been forward-going anyway, ride your own race but don’t forget you are on a fit horse. James gave him a great ride and he has got that sort of race in him – that’s his level, Listed or Group Three.

“With New London, I’m pleased with that run. He’s had a good blow and he will come forward from that. William said it is nice ground out there, but he’d like a bit more juice in the ground. He’s a Manduro and we know the family want cut in the ground.

“It has always been our plan to have a second-half of the season campaign, so that’s why we purposely didn’t go down the Hardwicke route, because I thought that is a tough race to go into, you are taking on Group One horses there.

“We saw it last year when I campaigned Hurricane Lane that way. As I say, you learn by your mistakes! That’s what I am doing.”

Tiber Flow provided trainer William Haggas and jockey Tom Marquand with back-to-back victories in the JenningsBet Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle.

Sense Of Duty notched her fourth successive victory with a brilliant display in the Group Three contest 12 months ago, but it was significantly harder work for her stablemate.

Tiber Flow, already a dual course winner and narrowly beaten on All-Weather Championships Finals Day last year, was the 5-2 favourite to make a triumphant return to Gosforth Park following a couple of sound efforts in defeat earlier this season at Newmarket and Haydock.

Always travelling strongly in midfield, the grey responded to Marquand’s urgings to run down Spycatcher inside the last of the six furlongs, with a neck separating them at the line.

“He’s a cracking little horse with loads of ability, he just needs things to go his way,” said Marquand.

“We didn’t go overly quick there, but there’s a headwind and the surface is bit slower than it looked like it was yesterday. He is a horse that has won over seven furlongs before, so if they go a nice tempo and you’ve got one to aim at you’re confident you’re going to be the strongest finisher.

“I think he’s still progressing. He’s a strong little horse and has probably become become more effective at sprinting this year. He was fast before, but he almost didn’t realise how quick he was.”

Maureen Haggas, assistant to her husband, said: “It’s hard work (the surface) today and he just ground it out really.

“He’s a sweet horse with a great temperament. He won a Listed race at Newbury last year so to win a Group Three is really nice.

“We’ll see how he is and see what the ground is like. William will work out where to go.”

Haggas also provided an update on Sense Of Duty, who has not been seen since blitzing her rivals here last year.

She does hold an entry in the July Cup, but appears unlikely to make her comeback at Newmarket.

She added: “We’re trying (to get her back). She’s such a good filly, she’s just delicate and has front legs that go in four different directions.

“Yes she’s coming back, but it’s a slow process and we’re now looking at the Sprint Cup at Haydock (in September).

“We were sort of hoping for Royal Ascot, but that didn’t happen and she wants soft ground, so we’d have been struggling anyway.”

Star Of Mystery ran out an ultra-impressive winner of the Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Fillies’ Stakes, as Charlie Appleby made a welcome return to the big-race winner’s enclosure at Newmarket.

Appleby has endured a quiet time of late, drawing a blank at Royal Ascot, but the performance of the hugely promising daughter of Kodiac gave the Moulton Paddocks handler plenty to smile about.

Second to the well-regarded Carla’s Way on debut, Star Of Mystery wasted little time opening her account in tremendous fashion at Haydock on her second start, which saw her sent off the 4-5 favourite for this Listed contest.

And she gave favourite-backers barely a moment’s worry, quickening smartly from a forward position in the hands of William Buick to blow the opposition away in fine style, registering a visually taking four-length success from Cry Fiction in the process.

It was Appleby’s second win in the six-furlong contest, following the success of Summer Romance in 2019. However, Appleby does not think she will become a Classic filly next season.

“She is a filly we know pedigree-wise, she is a from a speed-on-speed family,” he said.

“We came here today confident that she would come forward from that run at Haydock.

“We knew at the time when she got beaten at Lingfield that the winner that day was strongly fancied. It was a big ask to go to Ascot and it didn’t materialise unfortunately. We then went to Haydock and and obviously thought we hadn’t beaten a great deal, but when you win by 11 lengths, it is still a very impressive performance and physically she has done well since then.

“The natural route would be to work back from a Cheveley Park realistically. That’s the likelihood. I’m not going to say where we go next, but that will be our target.

“I think she is a six-furlong filly. People have asked if she is a Guineas filly. No, I don’t think she’ll get a Guineas, unless they shorten it by a couple of furlongs. No, realistically, she is not a Guineas filly and it will be wrong to train her like that.

“She is a set little model and we’ll keep cracking on as we are and hopefully she will do what we hope she can achieve in the Cheveley Park and we’ll be delighted.

“We will be positive with her this year.”

William Buick is to replace suspended Frankie Dettori on Emily Upjohn in next weekend’s Coral-Eclipse, after partnering the John and Thady Gosden-trained filly in a piece of work at Newmarket on Saturday morning.

Emily Upjohn, 10-11 favourite with the sponsors for the 10-furlong Sandown showpiece, worked a mile on the July course with Oaks winner Soul Sister and Mimikyu, who was beaten a short head in a York Group Three on her seasonal bow.

The trio all worked nicely, with Mimikyu in particular looking on very good terms with herself, and the trio finished within a length of each other.

Thady Gosden said: “Following Frankie’s appeal, the owners wanted William to ride and that’s the way we are going. Obviously, William is an excellent rider and we are delighted to have him aboard.

“It is disappointing and frustrating for Frankie not to be riding her, and with William not having a ride in the race he seemed a very sensible option for the owners.

“William had not sat on her before today, but he seemed pleased with what she did. She is a pretty laid-back filly in the mornings.

“Mimikyu always works very well. She has always been a very nice filly.”

Buick won the Eclipse for Gosden in 2012 with Nathaniel and they will team up again at the Esher track, where they could potentially meet Aidan O’Brien’s St James’s Palace Stakes winner Paddington.


Gosden went on: “The Eclipse remains the plan. Although she is coming back to a mile and a quarter after the Coronation Cup, we feel that this is the right spot for her. She likes Sandown, as she has proved before.”
Soul Sister, meanwhile, has several options and could be supplemented for the Irish Oaks at the Curragh on July 22, although she also holds entries in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot a week later and the Nassau Strakes at Goodwood on August 3.

 

Gosden senior said: “I was pleased with all three fillies’ work. 

“Mimikyu always works well, the other two are always a bit more laid back about life, but I’m pleased with them. Emily Upjohn is bright and happy and William is pleased with her. 

“There is no final decision where Soul Sister goes at this stage, but Emily Upjohn is on course for the Eclipse and Mimikyu is in a couple of places.

At a Board of Directors meeting on Friday 30 June 2023 at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, Cricket West Indies (CWI) has appointed Miles Bascombe as the new Director of Cricket, on a three-year contract. Bascombe will take over from Jimmy Adams, who had been in the role for the past six years.

Bascombe, 37, played one T20 International for the West Indies in 2011 and played first-class cricket between 2007 and 2017, for both the Windward Islands and the Combined Campuses and Colleges.  He is a graduate of the University of the West Indies with both Bachelor's and Master’s degrees and is a certified coach.

Bascombe, who was a CWI Men’s Selector between 2019 and 2021, has been the Technical Director at the Windward Islands Cricket Board over the last two years. Under his technical leadership, there have been a remarkable turnaround of fortunes for both male and female cricket across different levels, including an unbeaten first-class season in 2023.

Johnny Grave, CWI Chief Executive Officer said: “Following a thorough recruitment process, Miles stood out to the panel with his skills, experience and intimate knowledge of our cricket system, especially at Territorial Board level. His passion and understanding of the game at all levels are outstanding. He is a critical thinker with a strong analytical and strategic mindset, which will be hugely beneficial to us as we embark on formulating our new 4-year strategic plan. I have no doubt he will hit the ground running and will relish the challenge before us to develop higher standards and better structures within our cricket system.”

Miles Bascombe said: “West Indies Cricket is at a critical stage with an urgent need to improve performances. We have made significant progress with establishing a central High-Performance system that now needs to be rolled out across all of our Territories. I am looking forward to working as a member of the CWI senior leadership team and closely with the Territorial Boards to bring about the necessary improvements that I am confident will lead to more success by implementing a robust system based on achieving world-class standards and by driving a winning culture.”

CWI High Performance Manager, Graeme West will act as the interim Director of Cricket until Bascombe takes up his new role on 1 August 2023.

 

Al Husn wore down the dual Group One-winner Nashwa to cause a minor surprise in the JenningsBet In Shiremoor Hoppings Fillies’ Stakes at Newcastle.

Nashwa won the Prix de Diane and Nassau Stakes in a glittering three-year-old season, while she also ran well in the Oaks, the Prix de l’Opera and at the Breeders’ Cup.

She was sent off the 8-11 favourite to get back to winning ways under Hollie Doyle, who tried to dictate matters from the front.

John and Thady Gosden’s Nashwa raced keenly throughout but when Doyle asked the Frankel filly to put the race to bed, she immediately took a couple of lengths out of the field.

However, she did not make life easy for Doyle and began to hang to her left, and all the while Jim Crowley was coming with a strong run on the Roger Varian-trained Al Husn.

Al Husn (3-1) herself was a Listed winner last time out and had only lost one of her previous five races so is clearly on the upgrade and she continued her progression.

Deep inside the final furlong as Nashwa began to tire, Al Husn was hitting top gear and won by half a length.

Crowley told Sky Sports Racing of the winner: “She’s clearly thriving, she looked so well in herself tonight.

“She felt in great form, I was bit concerned I was drawn nine but I was able to get a really nice position.

“It was a bit of a rush when we turned for home but she picked up nicely and hit the line well.

“She’s improving all the time and off that run you crack on and aim a little bit higher, there’s no reason why she can’t progress. She wants to win, she’s not big but she’s a little terrier.

“I think so (earned a crack at the Nassau). I’ll speak to Roger and connections but she’d have nothing to lose running in a race like that and everything to gain.

“Touch wood she’ll progress again.”

Betfair cut the winner to 10-1 from 25s for the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

In May, SportsMax.tv published a story where CWI President, Dr. Kishore Shallow, said that opening new academies across the region was “high on the agenda.”

This was in reaction to the West Indies Academy coming out victorious in the inaugural Headley Weekes Series that same month, a tri series played directly after the conclusion of the West Indies Championship.

Cost and sustainability were the only concerns mentioned by Shallow about the initiative while he also said that the matter had to be discussed further by the CWI’s cricket development and performance and finance management and strategy committees.

On Thursday, Shallow was contacted by SportsMax.tv regarding developments the opening of the new academies.

The Vincentian said that, due to recent developments in West Indies cricket, they have had to focus their attention on other, more urgent matters.

Those matters, according to Shallow, are the recruitment of a new Director of Cricket as well as a new permanent head coach for the West Indies Women’s Team.

“What we are currently doing now is focusing on the recruitment of personnel. One of those positions being the director of cricket and the other being a new head coach of the women’s team,” Dr. Shallow said.

“Over the next few weeks, once we have finalized these two things, then we’re going to address the academy and all other components under the cricket,” he added.

On May 31, CWI announced that Jimmy Adams would not return as Director of Cricket while Courtney Walsh was sacked as West Indies Women’s head coach in April. Robert Samuels, who was an assistant coach during Walsh’s tenure, is currently serving as interim head coach of the team.

Not a name associated with big Saturday afternoon contests, Deborah Faulkner is targeting an “absolutely huge” JenningsBet Northumberland Plate success with the heavily-supported Golden Rules.

Faulkner is responsible for less than a dozen horses at her Monmouthshire yard and is pinching herself at the fact that she houses the market leader for the £150,000 Newcastle showpiece.

Bought out of John and Thady Gosden’s yard for bargain-basement price of 6,000 guineas in October 2021, Golden Rules did not make his debut for his new connections until appearing at Kempton in March of this year, when he proceeded to make every yard of the running under Oisin Murphy.

With the three-time champion jockey again in the saddle, and owner Gareth Cheshire bullish about his chances in a recent interview, the six-year-old has been backed into favouritism for the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’, which is only heightening Faulkner’s nerves.

She said: “I don’t know who is gambling on him, it’s not me because I don’t bet!

“He’s in good order, Oisin sat on him on Wednesday and he was more than happy with him.

“It’s all in the lap of the gods now and I just hope we don’t end up with egg on our face, but you’ve got to be in it to win it.”

While Golden Rules was out of competitive action for the best part of two years prior to his Kempton comeback, Faulkner revealed he has not suffered any major setbacks.

“We didn’t even attempt to get him on the track last year. For whatever reason they sold him, he had a few issues and we’ve just given him time,” Faulkner added.

“He does a lot of swimming and hopefully that’s sorted out his impatience in a race – he seems to have settled a lot better.

“We’ve just ticked along with him and when we thought he was ready, we had a little pop with him.

“We were originally going to run him over jumps, that’s why we bought him, but the ground wasn’t in his favour at all and we didn’t want to risk him, so we went for the Kempton race.

“He’s worked very well at home, so going to Kempton it was just a case of whether he still had the enthusiasm to race and luckily for us he did.”

Faulkner will not be making the trip to the north east herself, instead electing to watch on from her home in Wales.

She said: “It would be absolutely huge if he could win. We’ve only got 10 horses and I’m not going on Saturday because somebody has to stay in the yard and as three-quarters of our workforce has gone to Newcastle, it’s left to me to do the honours with the remaining horses!

“I will be very nervous, I just hope he lives up to expectations.”

Prior to the Golden Rules gamble, the ante-post favourite was the William Haggas-trained Post Impressionist.

The four-year-old finished second to subsequent St Leger hero Eldar Eldarov on his only previous visit to Gosforth Park and while he has been off the track since winning a lucrative prize at York in October, hopes are high, despite the fact a high draw in stall 19 of 20 is hardly ideal.

“He got a lovely draw in stall 19, that’s helpful! But he’s been training well and should run well,” said Haggas.

“He wants a bit of cut in the ground – he doesn’t really want summer firm – so we thought this would be the right sort of place to start.

“He was very slow to come to hand in the spring, but he’s coming now and has had a good preparation.”

The Newmarket handler has an interesting second string to his bow in Nathanael Greene, who like Post Impressionist will be tackling the two-mile distance for the first time.

Nathanael Greene was fifth at Ascot and fourth at Goodwood in May, most recently finishing just over five lengths behind Gold Cup hero Courage Mon Ami, and Haggas feels he could outrun his odds.

He added: “I thought Nathanael Greene wouldn’t be miles away. He’s got the headgear back on and he clearly needs that, so hopefully he’ll run a good race.

“He’s run two solid races this season and I think he’ll appreciate going up in trip as well.”

Hugo Palmer is also double-handed, with Zoffee and Rajinsky both bringing strong course form to the table .

Rajinsky has finished third and fourth in the last two renewals, while Zoffee plundered last year’s Northumberland Vase – the consolation race for the Plate.

“He’s getting better all the time, Rajinsky. He’s produced two career-bests from three runs this year and we were praying to be able to run him in the Queen Alexandra at Ascot last weekend,” said Palmer.

“I think he’d have been the top-rated horse in the race and I think he’d stay that far, but we are where we are and he’ll have no ground concerns at Newcastle.

“Zoffee is such a consistent horse – if they were all like him it would be an easier game.

“He found the line really well at Ascot (sixth in Ascot Stakes), for all he found it possibly just a furlong too far.

“He’s very well versed at two miles, he copes with that trip and he obviously won the consolation last year, so it’s always been the hope that he could try to follow up in the big one this year.”

The Alan King-trained Rainbow Dreamer is another Newcastle regular and has been kept fresh for this race since winner the Marathon over the course on All-Weather Championships Finals Day in April.

King said: “He’s a much better horse on the all-weather and he seems well when he’s lovely and fresh, so it was always the plan to give him a break and train him for this.

“It’s all gone very well – he seems to love it. He’s a bit higher than he was last year and it won’t be easy off that sort of rating, but he seems very well and this was the obvious place to come.

“Let’s hope he runs well.”

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