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Reach For The Moon poised for Sandown comeback

John Gosden has given a strong indication the Queen’s one-time Derby hope Reach For The Moon will make his seasonal reappearance over a mile in the Coral Heron Stakes at Sandown Park on Thursday.

The son of Sea The Stars was backed to end Her Majesty’s wait for a winner in the premier Epsom Classic following his encouraging second in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and victory in the Solario Stakes. But the three-year-old has been on the sidelines since finishing second to Bayside Boy in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September.

Following an interrupted preparation for his three-year-old campaign, dreams of Epsom were ultimately shelved and attention turned to getting Reach For The Moon fighting fit for the Royal meeting later in June.

The Queen with Reach For The Moon and Frankie Dettori
The Queen with Reach For The Moon and Frankie Dettori (Andrew Matthews/PA)

His trainer now reports if that goal is to be hit, the colt needs to be on the track sooner rather than later and the Listed contest the Clarehaven team have dominated of late is the perfect place for Reach For The Moon to tune-up for Ascot duty.

Gosden told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme: “We all know he sustained an injury last year and he was unable to go to the Dewhurst and he’s been off for a long time.

“He’s been back at the stud farm at Sandringham and they did the most fantastic job with him and he came back to us and we have very diligently and carefully gone along with him.

“From his work now, he’s ready for a run, but I want to be very clear that he’s only around 80-85 per cent. But if I don’t run him in the Heron then we’re in trouble to get him to Ascot because if you look at it, from his rating, the only other options are carrying top-weight in an older horse handicap, so it makes sense to run him at Sandown, which I hope to do at this stage. Sandown, right-handed with an uphill finish, is a well-worn path to Ascot.”

The stable’s last three winners of the Heron Stakes have all gone on to compete in the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile next time, and Gosden agrees it is still to be determined what Reach For The Moon’s ideal trip could be, also revealing the monarch’s wise words about the dam, who was a Listed winner over seven furlongs.

Gosden continued: “I think if anything after speaking to Frankie (Dettori) after his work yesterday, he could be a mile-and-a-quarter horse, that is the feel he gets and he’s a pretty shrewd judge at this stage of his young, burgeoning career.

“I think it would be the debate we would all be having, as Her Majesty points out, the mother was very, very, very quick.”

The Gosdens have enjoyed a fine few days, which has included the successful reappearance of Stradivarius and both Emily Upjohn and Nashwa cementing their position as two of the leading three-year-old fillies.

Another of their star acts, Inspiral, also holds an entry in the Heron Stakes but Gosden is less certain on her first port of call.

Dubai Future Champions Festival – Newmarket – Friday October 8th
Inspiral, here winning the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket, is still to be seen this season (Tim Goode/PA)

The unbeaten daughter of Frankel was ante-post favourite for the 1000 Guineas before missing the race following a setback and her trainer is weighing up the merits of all her possible options, which include Sandown, the Irish 1,000 Guineas or waiting for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“I can’t (confirm her participation in the Irish Guineas) because I think it is something I’m going to discuss tomorrow,” Gosden added.

“At this stage we’re very happy with her, but it has been a difficult spring with her. We have been very open about that and we’ll just see whether that is the right thing to do, to put her on a plane and fly her over there for her first race, or whether we sit tight and maybe run here, or just wait for Ascot. There are three or four aspects to discuss.

“She got held up in the spring, that happens but she looks good, she worked well here yesterday, but when you miss time in your preparation, you don’t want to cut a corner to catch up, that never works.”

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