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Brothers set for battle in Investec Coronation Cup

31 May 2017

Highland Reel and his year-younger sibling Idaho among ten in £420,000 Epsom contest

Hawkbill and William Buick after winning the Coral-Eclipse last summer. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Aidan O’Brien will rely on brothers Highland Reel and Idaho, plus last year’s Investec Derby runner-up US Army Ranger in his attempt to land the Investec Coronation Cup for an eighth time at Epsom on Friday.

The trio feature among a final field of ten – the biggest line-up since 2008 – for the £420,000 Group 1 contest, which forms part of the Middle Distance category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

Highland Reel has already won four races at the highest level during his globetrotting career, including the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (sponsored QIPCO) last summer and has won his connections more than £5 million in prize money.

Idaho has yet to hit the same heights as his year older sibling but he finished third in the Investec Derby last year and was sent off at 4-6 for the Ladbrokes St Leger, only to stumble and unseat his rider about three furlongs from home.

“We’ve always thought Idaho would get to the same level as Highland Reel,” O’Brien said. “Physically, maybe he is a bit bigger and stronger than him. Things have not always fallen for him – unusual things have happened, like what happened in the Leger. We think he is progressing all the time and will progress through the year.”

Idaho signed off last year by finishing fifth in the Pattison Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine and will be making his seasonal reappearance.

Another having a first run of the campaign is Journey, absent since gaining an emphatic four-length success over Speedy Boarding in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day in October.

John Gosden, her trainer, seeking a first success in the Investec Coronation Cup, said: “We’ve been pointing her towards this race for some time and she worked nicely on Sunday. We are very happy with her but I think she will come on a lot for the race.

“It looks a good version of the race and she will appreciate any rain that comes. She handles most ground but I think she enjoys a little bit of give. Track-wise we will find out on the day. You don’t really know how they are going to handle it until they race around there.”

On future plans for the George Strawbridge-owned mare, who has been beaten only once in five starts over 1m4f, Gosden said: “We’ve not really looked beyond Friday. The Hardwicke [at Royal Ascot] comes 20 days later, so she could always look at that.”

Charlie Appleby runs Frontiersman, supplemented for £25,000 after a taking success in a handicap at Newmarket last time, and Hawkbill. The latter, winner of the Coral-Eclipse last season, showed he is equally effective over a mile and a half when winning the Group Three Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury last time.

The blue colours of Godolphin will also be carried by the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Prize Money, who has been in fine form in Dubai this year.

Red Verdon, sixth in the Derby last year, and Air Pilot, narrow winner of the Group 3 Dr Vincent O’Brien Centenary Alleged Stakes last time, also stand their ground.

Andrew Balding’s Elbereth, who worked with the Investec Oaks-bound stablemate Horseplay at Epsom last week, completes the field.