North Yorkshire Trainer Aiming to Make his Mark at Royal Ascot

7 June 2024

North Yorkshire-based trainer Ed Bethell is dreaming about breaking his duck at the prestigious 2024 Royal Ascot meeting with talented sprinter Regional.

The six-year-old is scheduled to run in the King Charles III Stakes and could be a tough nut to crack after running a fine race on his seasonal reappearance in May.

Regional crossed the Irish Sea to contest the Group Two Greenlands Stakes at The Curragh, and made much of the running before being overhauled by Mitbaahy in the final furlong.

Bethell believes the run will have put the 2023 Haydock Sprint Cup winner spot on for Royal Ascot and has backed him to run a massive race.

“He ran really well, delighted with him,” Bethell said. “A stiff six (furlongs) just found him out and all roads lead to the King Charles at Royal Ascot.

“Hopefully we’ll get good, fast ground there and I’m really excited about his chance over five furlongs on that track.

“The whole idea was to go to the Temple Stakes, but the ground went against us at Haydock, so we went to The Curragh for the ground. A stiff six would never have been his cup of tea, but a stiff five at Ascot will be tailor-made for him.

“It’s what we all do it for – to have chances going down there, let alone a live one. To have runners at Royal Ascot is what we all do it for and we’re really excited. Fingers crossed he’ll get there.”

The King Charles III Stakes is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races of the week at Royal Ascot, with several other horses in with a chance of victory.

They include Big Evs, who won the Windsor Castle Stakes at this meeting last season before adding to his tally at Glorious Goodwood and Doncaster.

He ended his two-year-old campaign with a brilliant victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita under jockey Tom Marquand.

Barnsley born trainer Mick Appleby kicked off the horse’s three-year-old campaign in the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes at York in May, where he ran out an easy winner.

Big Evs now heads the betting market for the King Charles III Stakes and could be a tough nut to crack in what Appleby describes as the horse’s ‘toughest assignment yet’.

While Yorkshire punters will no doubt be hoping for a ‘home win’ in the race, a talented challenger from Australia could throw a spanner in the works.

Asfoora is the sole Aussie representative at this year’s meeting and has been well backed on the top Australian betting sites for horse racing by bettors Down Under.

The five-year-old is the third favourite for the race behind Big Evs and Regional and could be an excellent each-way bet if she puts her best foot forward.

The daughter of Group 1-winning sprinter Flying Artie has run some excellent races in Australia and will likely improve for a recent prep run at Haydock Park.

Trainer Henry Dwyer has booked Oisin Murphy to ride Asfoora at Royal Ascot and is confident she will do herself justice on the opening day of the meeting.

“I’m confident there’s improvement still to come,” Dwyer said. “It was the fine balance of not training her too hard in the new environment and then potentially ruining the whole campaign and not doing enough.

“But she’s relaxed into her surroundings really well and she’s staying in Newmarket on the quieter side which has helped her a lot.

“It’s very exciting being the sole Australian ‘tourist’ this year and the hospitality that everyone showed me when I was there was fantastic. Everyone’s wanted her to race at their tracks and so it’s been really nice and I really think the best is still yet to come.”

Asfoora missed out on third place by a nose in the Temple Stakes at Haydock, but should be more suited to the better ground conditions at Royal Ascot.

With Murphy replacing Mitchell Aitken in the saddle, the Australian mare could leave her rivals trailing in her wake later this month.

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