SOUTHERN France could be rerouted from the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot to the shorter Hardwicke Stakes next month.
Aidan O’Brien was pleasantly surprised with how much pace the four-year-old showed when beaten just three-quarters of a length by Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup on Friday.
“Southern France ran well in York and he’s going to step up again from that run,” said the Ballydoyle handler.
“He could come back in trip for something like the Hardwicke. The Gold Cup was the plan, but he has more pace than we thought. He’ll be trained for Ascot, but has a choice of races.”
Others among the staying division for O’Brien include 2017 Irish Derby winner Capri, who has yet to hit form this season.
“Western Australia won at Navan on Saturday and he could go to Ascot for the Queen’s Vase, and the plan is still for Capri to go for the Gold Cup,” said O’Brien.
“Capri is a bit older and is just taking a little bit of time to get fit. We needed to get those two runs into him and he’ll be trained now for the Gold Cup.”
Meanwhile, David Lanigan will resist the temptation of running Worth Waiting at Royal Ascot and send her straight to the Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. The Newmarket handler will return the daughter of Bated Breath to Group One company after earmarking the mile-and-a-quarter Group One prize on June 28 as her next target.
After seeing her bid for a five-timer halted in the Prix Vermeille last season, the filly, who holds entries in the Hardwicke and Prince of Wales’s Stakes, made a winning return in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket.
Lanigan said: “We are going to wait for the Pretty Polly. She had quite a hard race last time out. Going to the Curragh just gives her plenty of time to get over it.”
He added: “She came out of the race well and is in great order and I’m really happy with her.
“I just thought she had a ding-dong battle from a long way out and by doing this we are not rushing her back. I think it is the sensible route to go against fillies.”
Worth Waiting’s next performance will determine if she is seen back in Britain afterwards or given a trip to America.
Lanigan added: “If she went and won the Pretty Polly, then we would look at going to Goodwood for the Nassau.
“If she ran well and was placed, then we would go for the Beverly D Stakes.
“I don’t think we could do both Goodwood and the Beverly D at Arlington as they are too close to each other.”
LEE SOBOT’S SELECTIONS
NOTTINGHAM: 2.10 Ottoman Court, 2.45 Aegeus (treble), 3.15 Rambaldi, 3.45 NEAROOZ (NAP), 4.20 Inclyne, 4.55 Master Grey, 5.25 Staycation.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 1.50 Alkaraama (next best), 2.20 Bluebell Time, 2.55 Something Lucky, 3.25 Hen, 4.00 Pytilia, 4.35 Jailbreak, 5.05 Skyva.
BRIGHTON: 2.00 Ask The Guru, 2.35 Voltaic, 3.05 Dark Poet, 3.35 He’s Our Star, 4.10 Highland Sky, 4.45 Blessed To Empress, 5.15 Imperial Act.
HEXHAM: 5.50 Fading Icon, 6.20 Glinger Flame, 6.50 Roxyfet, 7.20 Fanzio, 7.50 Truckers Tangle, 8.20 Prince Dundee, 8.50 Farlam King.
HUNTINGDON: 5.40 Universal Command, 6.10 Golden Cannon, 6.40 Court Out, 7.10 The Groovy Hoovy, 7.40 Extreme Appeal, 8.10 For Good Measure, 8.40 Sand Blast.