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Caravaggio puts unbeaten record on line in Cup cracker

22 Jun 2017

The Aidan O'Brien-trained speedster heads 12 runners in top quality contest

Caravaggio digest

Caravaggio will aims to make it six wins from as many starts in an absorbing contest. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Aidan O’Brien is relishing running the “brilliantly fast” Caravaggio in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup (3.40) at Royal Ascot on Friday. The £400,000 feature, which is run over six furlongs and is exclusively for three-year-olds, forms part of the Sprint category of the QIPCO British Champions Series and will be contested by 12 runners.

Caravaggio won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot last year before following up in the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. The Scat Daddy colt preserved his unbeaten record when winning the Group 3 EMS Copiers Lacken Stakes at Naas by almost five lengths on his reappearance last month. He will be joined in the line-up by stablemate Intelligence Cross.

O’Brien’s previous best sprinters have been Stravinsky, winner of the July Cup and Nunthorpe in 1999; Mozart, who won the same races in 2001; and Starspangledbanner, an Australian import who won the Golden Jubilee Stakes (now Diamond Jubilee Stakes) and July Cup in 2010.

That trio all dropped back in trip to show sprinting was their forte but, by contrast, Caravaggio has never run beyond six furlongs and plans to run him over a mile in either the QIPCO 2000 Guineas or French equivalent earlier in the season were shelved.

O’Brien said: “We always thought he was a brilliantly fast horse and we just did not risk losing that brilliance by trying to extend him over too far, even though he never showed us that he wouldn’t get further than sprint distances. I think it [the Commonwealth Cup] was a wonderful idea. It’s a great race to have now; when you have a brilliantly fast two-year-old it gives you an option.

“We were delighted with Caravaggio last year and had been looking forward to getting him started this season. We were very happy with him at Naas and everything has gone smooth since. He’s a very classy horse with a good temperament. He’s very relaxed. It’s a competitive race and we are looking forward to our horse running.”

The £400,000 race, won by Muhaarar and Quiet Reflection in the past two years, promises to be a thriller. Blue Point and Harry Angel, the first two home in the Group 3 Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at Ascot last month, meet again and the latter has since easily won the Group 2 Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. Tis Marvellous, fourth in the Pavilion Stakes, also takes his chance.

Wesley Ward has issued several positive bulletins about his unbeaten American challenger, Bound For Nowhere, while Straight Right flies the flag for France. Other runners include Yalta, superb winner of the Victoria Racing Club Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood last year.