Juddmonte duo hunting Group One gold at Ascot

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

Time Lock and Bluestocking give owner-breeders Juddmonte a strong hand in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Time Lock has made steady progress throughout the season for the training partnership of Harry and Roger Charlton and appears to have hit form at just the right time with Qipco Champions Day in mind judged on an impressive Group Three victory at Newmarket three weeks ago.

The Ralph Beckett-trained Bluestocking finished third in the Ribblesdale Stakes, second in the Irish Oaks and fourth in the Yorkshire Oaks earlier in the season, but was unable to make the most of having her sights lowered when touched off by Al Qareem in a Listed event at Chester last time out.

Juddmonte’s racing manager Barry Mahon admits testing conditions at Ascot will not be ideal for either filly, but feels both merit their place at Ascot.

“They’re two lovely fillies, the ground is an obvious concern I suppose for both of them, but they have both shown they can handle it on occasions,” he said.

“Time Lock ran well on Goodwood on heavy ground when she finished third in the Lillie Langtry and obviously Bluestocking was second in the Irish Oaks on soft ground, so they have run well on soft before, it just depends how testing it is.

“It’s the end of the season, it’s a lovely place to finish up and it’s nice to have both of them in it with a chance.”

Time Lock would be a popular winner for Derby-winning trainer Roger Charlton as he prepares to fully hand over the licence to his son Harry at the end of the season.

“She is in great form and is on the right path, growing in confidence with her success. It looks very competitive with a big field but she’s in as good form as any of the others at the moment,” said Charlton junior.

“It’s hard to be too confident as the conditions aren’t ideal. We’d be going with more confidence if they weren’t looking at so much rain, as good ground would have been ideal, but she handles soft.”

The likely favourite for the Group One contest is John and Thady Gosden’s Free Wind, one of five rides on the day for Frankie Dettori on what is set to be his final competitive appearance in Britain.

The five-year-old was well held in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three weeks ago, but her narrow defeat at the hands of Warm Heart in the Yorkshire Oaks in August arguably sets the standard.

“Free Wind found the ground a bit lively in the Arc. Frankie looked after her and that’s one of the great things about him, he’s very quick at knowing when they aren’t enjoying it,” said John Gosden.

“He wrapped up on her with 400 metres or so to go and that’s why I can entertain running her again here – she seems in good form.”

Aidan O’Brien saddles Jackie Oh, who was narrowly denied an Arc weekend victory when touched off by Blue Rose Cen in the Prix de l’Opera.

The daughter of Galileo will be tackling a mile and a half for the first time this weekend, but O’Brien does not expect the longer distance to be a problem.

“We always felt a mile and a half was within her compass and ease in the ground will definitely be a help to her. She’s very genuine and we’re really looking forward to her,” he said.

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