Cannonball! Australian Sprinter Out To Make A Splash At Royal Ascot

Cannonball |  TDN AusNZ/Ashlea Brennan


Australian sprinter Cannonball (Aus) (Capitalist {Aus}) is being predicted to make an explosive impact at Royal Ascot by majority owner James Harron who insists the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained colt will post “a very big performance” if the ground is good or better in the G1 King's Stand S.

A general 10-1 chance to emulate last year's winner Nature Strip (Aus) and the brilliant Scenic Blast (Aus), Miss Andretti (Aus), Takeover Target (Aus) and Choisir (Aus) by winning the King's Stand for Australia, success for Cannonball would also reverberate as far as Northern Ireland. 

Harron's adopted home may be Australia, where he has operated numerous successful colts partnerships for well over a decade now, but the Northern Irishman has long aspired to bring one good enough to one of the first big meetings that first enthralled him with the sport. In Cannonball, he is confident that he has found the right horse to make the long trip worthwhile. 

He said, “I truly believe that we haven't seen the best of Cannonball yet and I am hoping and praying for a fast track at Ascot on the Tuesday. If we get that, you will see a very big performance. 

James Harron | JH Bloodstock

“You'll see him in the mounting yard and be able to point him out as the big Aussie sprinter–he's a magnificent animal, big and strong. He really does command a lot of presence in the ring and is cut out for the job.”

Harron added, “It would be absolutely huge if he were to be successful. Hard to put it into words, I guess. It would certainly be one of my career highlights and it's just wonderful to be able to bring a lot of the owners over from Australia so, for them to be able to experience what Royal Ascot offers, and if he could be successful, it would be an experience that money couldn't buy. 

“It would be amazing for all the team, amazing for Peter Snowden [joint-trainer] himself, who is flying over to Ascot along with his wife Lyn, and of course Brett Prebble [jockey] who has been doing so much work with us in Australia. It would be so satisfying to share that experience with everyone who works so hard and has been great supporters of ours.”

Victory would no doubt be made extra special by the fact that Cannonball is by Capitalist, the Golden Slipper-winning two-year-old and just about the most successful young stallion to have come through Harron's colts partnerships.

Cannonball will be Capitalist's first ever runner in Europe and, according to Harron, the three-year-old has a lot of the right qualities needed to win the King's Stand. 

Harron said, “He's a very, very fast horse. Physically, he's developed extremely well as he's gone through his three-year-old year. He really thrives on good ground, has a high cruising speed and he can roll off fast sectionals. Five furlongs on good ground is right up his alley and it's those reasons that made us think that the King's Stand was the race that would be most suited to him.”

He added, “It's a huge effort to travel a horse to the royal meeting from Australia. There's a lot that goes into the organisation of it all and, from a logistical point of view and a staffing point of view, it's a huge effort. You have to give the trip a lot of consideration given the value of the horse you are travelling and because we've got such wonderful prize-money and other options that also need to be considered at home in Australia. 

“It's something you take very seriously, not to mention the quality of the opposition in Europe, which is very much respected. Coming into the King's Stand, you have the brilliant mare Highfield Princess (Fr) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) and many more to be fearful of, so it's certainly a huge challenge. But the great Australian sprinters have paved the way for this sort of a trip and that gives us confidence that we can come to Royal Ascot and be competitive with Cannonball.” 

One of the shrewdest operators on the international stage, Harron can also count Foxwedge (Aus) and King's Legacy (Aus) as graduates of his successful system of buying yearlings with the view of turning them into multi million dollar stallion prospects. 

He is also one of the slot holders in The Everest, a race he has won twice–with Redzel (Aus) in 2017 and Giga Kick (Aus) last year–and manages a number of high profile owner portfolios and broodmare bands. 

There are few better versed on the global bloodstock market than Harron, who bought Cannonball for AU$975,000 as a yearling from Newgate Stud at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. He explained that, whilst he is shunning potentially lucrative pots in his homeland in favour of running at the royal meeting, the potential upside to the trip is creating a stallion with global appeal. 

He said, “Being from Ireland myself, Royal Ascot is something that will always be in the back of my head when I potentially have the right horse to travel across. We were always thinking that Cannonball's profile fitted the bill given his best distance is five to five-and-a-half furlongs. Now, he may get six furlongs strongly as he gets older and more seasoned but, right now, the King's Stand trip looks to be in his wheelhouse. 

“The other thing with this horse, he's run three or four times on soft ground and he just doesn't like it whatsoever-he's very ineffective on it. We were aware of that coming into the autumn, when he got his ground when returning from a decent break to beat the older horses at Rosehill and then he backed that up a week later to run third–unlucky not to be second–in a Group 1.

“That gave us the confidence to pull the trigger on Royal Ascot. He's on the up and is improving. We got together with all the connections to discuss it and we just had the confidence that Cannonball was the right horse to have a go at Royal Ascot with.” 

Harron added, “Royal Ascot is such a prestigious event. It's an incredible week's racing and, in terms of this colt, he's beautifully-bred and is by Capitalist, who is obviously very close to our hearts and is doing an amazing job as a stallion at home in Australia. This will be Capitalist's first ever European runner, not to mean Royal Ascot, and if Cannonball was to be successful, it would obviously be huge for his potential stud value. This is the world stage and all eyes will be on the King's Stand. It's a true test of speed, which of course is very desirable for people in Australia. We wanted to give him the opportunity and he certainly won't let us down. We will find out exactly where he fits in.”


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