HIGHCLERE PLANS FOUR ROYAL ASCOT RUNNERS AFTER PRIMARY WEEKEND
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, the most successful racehorse multiple ownership operation in Europe, looks set to have at least four runners at Royal Ascot this week.
This comes on the back of Primary's easy success in the 10-furlong Listed Gran Premio d'Italia at San Siro, Milan, Italy on Saturday (June 17).
Harry Herbert, HTR's managing director, today outlined plans for the week: "Conquest goes for the Windsor Castle Stakes (5.30pm 5f Listed) tomorrow (Tuesday).
"He was beaten a neck by Sonny Red on his debut at Newmarket over five furlongs in May and finished fifth when evens favourite over six furlongs at Newbury two weekends later, both on soft ground.
"Conquest shows an enormous amount of talent at home. He deserves to take his chance and Jimmy Fortune will ride."
Conquest, a two-year-old by Invincible Spirit, is trained by Newmarket-based William Haggas, who also handles Primary, and owned by HTR's Troy Syndicate.
Asset drops back a furlong in trip in Wednesday's opener, the Group Three Jersey Stakes (2.35pm) over seven furlongs, after disappointing trainer Richard Hannon and jockey Richard Hughes when ninth in colts' Classic, the Stan James 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 6.
Herbert commented: "Asset seems in great form. He has got a lot of speed and a stiff seven furlongs should be ideal.
"In hindsight, I think he ran well in the Guineas, only being beaten just under seven lengths, though the trainer and jockey felt he could have done better."
Asset is the property of the 20-share Cricket Ground Syndicate.
Four-year-old Forgery, trained by Gerard Butler and owned by the Secret Panel Syndicate, will line up in the Royal Hunt Cup and has 8st 7lb in the £100,000 handicap which is due off at 4.25pm on Wednesday.
Herbert said: "Forgery won the Spring Cup at Newbury (beating 24 others on April 22) and it was always the plan to wait for the Royal Hunt. If he had run again in the meantime, he might have gone up again in the handicap.
"He has a lovely racing weight and is a lightly-raced son of Dr Devious. The family has improved with age and he has been working very well and progressed physically.
"We would not want the ground to be lighting fast but he should cope with good to firm.
Kieren Fallon rides him for the first time as Nicky Mackay is claimed by Luca Cumani."
Distinction, ante-post favourite for Thursday's Group One Gold Cup (3.50pm), is HTR's major hope of the week and belongs to the Orangery Syndicate.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained seven-year-old finished second, beaten a neck, to Westerner in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot at York last year.
Herbert remarked: "It is very exciting to have Distinction run in the Gold Cup again. He is a great friend who has done marvellously well.
"He ran badly in last year's Melbourne Cup after pulling muscles in his back but otherwise has been very consistent.
"Distinction loves fast ground and did not relish the soft going when giving weight away on his seasonal debut at Newbury but still won.
"Touch wood, he seems in great form and it would be a fairytale to win the Gold Cup."
The Nursery Syndicate's Numeric, from John Gosden's stable, is entered in Friday's King George V Handicap, which has been HTR's lucky race at Royal Ascot, but appears the unlikely to get a run at the moment.
Herbert added: "It is wonderful for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing to have at least four runners at Royal Ascot this week. The season has started well.
"Primary won very easily in Italy on Saturday. There are no immediate plans but he could run in the Group Two Prix Eugene Adam at Maisons-Laffitte on July 23.
"There is also an option of going to America for the million-dollar Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 15 and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on August 12.
"We felt he did not stay the 12 furlongs of the Chester Vase and now think that we have his trip right at 10 furlongs. He came from off the pace in Italy, which suited him, and has now won four of his six starts.
"Primary is beautifully bred, being by Giant's Causeway out of a Mr Prospector mare, and
hopefully he can progress further."
ATR ANNOUNCES FIRST PHASE LAUNCH OF ATR ACTIVE WITH DEDICATED PARADE RING COVERAGE FROM ROYAL ASCOT
At The Races, the UK and Ireland's most watched dedicated horseracing channel, today announced that an enhanced interactive service will be trialled during its Royal Ascot coverage from 20th - 25th June ahead of a full scale launch in September. The service will be called ATR Active.
The new ATR Active will replace the existing interactive service which is available behind the red button to 8 million viewers in Sky digital homes. ATR is currently in discussion with its cable partners about providing a similar service.
On the opening day of the Royal Ascot meeting viewers will be able to access a second channel feed, ATR Xtra, which will offer unprecedented coverage of the five day festival. Available to Sky digital viewers the quarter screen ATR Xtra channel will offer live, dedicated parade ring coverage and commentary before every race at Royal Ascot.
From September, ATR Active will offer a range of enhanced features to further improve the race viewing and betting experience including a second broadcast channel in quarter screen, live prices, tipping and more intuitive racecards and form services all displayed without the need for online connection. The ATR Xtra channel will deliver a variety of additional content not scheduled on the main channel. Viewers will be able to toggle at any time between ATR Xtra and the main At The Races broadcast allowing them to choose between two different races when off times clash, view head-on shots immediately after a race and follow dedicated parade ring footage when available. Where possible, ATR Xtra will also track horses from the paddock to the post then back into the winner's enclosure
An enhanced form and race prediction service will also run through the ATR Xtra channel ahead of every UK and Irish race.
When, during the summer, UK and Irish evening racing is being covered on ATR's main broadcast channel, fans of US racing will be able to access live content behind the red button from 6pm as well as on ATR's 'Stateside' programme from 9pm.
Significantly, since the service lies behind the red button, bookmaker partners for the first time will have the opportunity to utilise conventional thirty second advertising spots targeted directly at punters. Partner bookmaker services currently accessible behind the red button on At The Races are SkyBet, Ladbrokes, Bet Direct, Blue Square and Sporting Index.
Matthew Imi, Chief Executive, At The Races: "This is a hugely exciting step for ATR, allowing a more comprehensive level of racing coverage than ever before. The service will provide viewers and betting partners with more options in terms of coverage of domestic and international horseracing and all associated betting opportunities. Also, there is a fantastic opportunity to think creatively about other content areas with which we could populate what is essentially a second channel. In the short term, as well as offering exclusive form and betting related content, ATR Active also gives us scheduling flexibility so we can go a long way to solving the split screen issue and broadcast US racing all through the evening during summer months."
SKY BET OFFERS 1 HOUR 15 MINUTE INTERACTIVE RED BUTTON PRICEWISE GUARANTEE DURING ROYAL ASCOT
Sky Bet will be guaranteeing prices via the interactive red button on Racing Post Pricewise races for 1 hour and 15 minutes on each day of Royal Ascot this week.
The guarantee will run from 9.00am through to 10.15am, covering the one-hour Racing News programme on At The Races from 9.00am - 10.00am plus an extra 15 minutes. The guarantee is available on At The Races and all other Sky digital channels.
The bookmaker is taking this bold step during Flat racing's most eagerly anticipated meeting of the year.
Dale Tempest, the Sky Bet PR Director, commented: "We are delighted to offer the interactive Pricewise guarantee at Royal Ascot, giving our customers the ability to secure an early price without leaving the comfort of their homes.
"No other bookmaker in the country will guarantee to hold prices on all Pricewise races during Royal Ascot for such an extended period of time.
"Interactive betting is now quicker and easier to access than ever before and hopefully this offer will encourage Sky Digital viewers to press their red buttons, especially with all 30 Royal Ascot races broadcast live on At The Races. We have offered this service at the last two Cheltenham Festivals and it has proved very popular.
"This guarantee will be effective on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 20-24, and is exclusive to Sky Bet customers using At The Races and Sky Digital interactive services."
In addition, Sky Bet will also guarantee prices on Pricewise races from 9.00am - 9.15am for telephone betting and internet customers.
**Sky Bet will also be offering customers another special offer during Royal Ascot, with 1/4 the odds on all 30 contests at the meeting.**
Pricewise is the very influential tipping column in the Racing Post, racing's principal daily newspaper.