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Simple Verse limbers up for Ascot in Yorkshire Cup

17 May 2017

Ralph Beckett relishing the return of his dual Group 1-winning mare at York on Friday

Beckett says Simple Verse trains with enthusiasm. Picture:

Ralph Beckett is relishing the return of his stable flagbearer, Simple Verse, in the £165,000 Betway Yorkshire Cup on Friday in what is the first race in the staying category of this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series.

Beckett believes the Group 2 York contest will be the ideal stepping stone for his five-year-old mare towards the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on June 22.

A final field of eight, including last year’s winner Clever Cookie, has been declared.

Beckett said: “She’s in good form and went well when she worked on Monday morning. The ground should be ideal, as should the track and trip.

“I have the Gold Cup in mind, and this is the best place to start. I haven’t been through the opposition but this is the right race for her and the opposition becomes academic then.”

Simple Verse became the first filly to win the Ladbrokes St Leger in 23 years in 2015 and followed up in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Further Group 1 success eluded her last year but she impressed when winning the DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September and again ran well when finishing a close third behind Sheikhzayedroad and Quest For More in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot the following month.

“Last season she was down and then up – things went well once we upped her in trip,” Andover-based Beckett said.

“Her last two starts were excellent and we are very pleased to have her back.

“The Long Distance Cup on Champions Day was unsatisfactory in that it turned into a bit of sprint, but that’s life. It’s gone and we move on.

“She certainly ran to the same level last year as when at her peak at three. I don’t know if she’s going to improve this year, but she might not need to.”

Simple Verse will be having her first outing in seven months but her trainer said: “She trains with plenty of enthusiasm, so she is relatively straightforward to get fit.”