Royal Ascot Next For Kerdos As Plans Take Shape For Sprinting Stars

Kerdos (centre) beats Live In The Dream (right) at Haydock | PA Media

Trainer Clive Cox has confirmed that all roads lead to Royal Ascot for Kerdos (Ire) following the four-year-old's victory in Saturday's G2 Temple S. at Haydock.

Cox was winning the race for a third time having previously struck in 2016 with Kerdos's sire, Profitable (Ire), and the following year with Priceless (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), a half-sister to Kerdos's granddam, Ballyalla (GB) (Mind Games {GB}).

Profitable went on to win the G1 King's Stand S. at Royal Ascot on his next start and that five-furlong sprint–which will be run as the King Charles III S. for the first time this year–is now on the agenda for Kerdos after he justified Cox's belief in him with a career-best effort at Haydock.

“I was really pleased but it was no surprise,” Cox summed up. “We always believed he could perform at this level, especially after the way he won the Beverley Bullet last year.

“He's a horse that normally takes a couple of runs to get into full flight and I was really pleased that he managed in that ground, but it shows he's versatile as it was very quick when he won the Beverley Bullet, so we were very happy. He wasn't beaten far in the Abbaye last season and I'm just delighted that he's hit his stride at this time of year, with some very nice races to get excited about.”

On the family connection, Cox added, “What nobody picked up on on Saturday was his dam is out of a half-sister to Priceless and he's by Profitable, so he really is the glue of our previous Temple winners, which was very nice.

“Most definitely it will be the King Charles III now and we'll sleep easy knowing he has won on both types of ground, which is always a relief. I'm pleased that we will be heading there with two realistic chances, with Diligent Harry in great form as well.”

The opposition to Kerdos and Diligent Harry (GB) (Due Diligence) at Royal Ascot is likely to include last year's G1 Sprint Cup winner Regional (GB) (Territories {Ire}), who delighted trainer Ed Bethell when returning to action with a runner-up finish behind Mitbaahy (Ire)–another son of Profitable–in Saturday's G2 Greenlands S. at the Curragh.

“He ran really well,” Bethell said of the six-year-old. “A stiff six 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, 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. We're really excited and fingers crossed he'll get there.”

One horse who won't be in action at the Royal meeting is Live In The Dream (Ire) (Prince Of Lir {Ire}), who was beaten just half a length in the Temple having led for much of the race. Trainer Adam West is now considering a return trip to Haydock as he plots a route back to the G1 Nunthorpe S. at York which Live In The Dream won so impressively in 2023.

“He was out in the sunshine yesterday and this morning and he looks fantastic,” said West. “We couldn't have asked for a better start to the season really. I think Sean [Kirrane, jockey] showed a lot of maturity. He took him through the gears nicely and wasn't hard on him. He just said in the last 50 yards he's got a tiny bit leg weary, but he absolutely felt the best he's ever felt and the maturity level of the horse has come on since last year, so we're delighted.

“We're still looking at Sandown [for the Coral Charge], but we are actually going to throw a curveball in and look at the Achilles Stakes back at Haydock first. The dates have worked out so well for us and despite being a Group 1 winner in a Listed race, because the Nunthorpe was before the end of August he's able to run, so it would be silly of us not to consider it. We'll enter him and see what the ground is like.”

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