Progressive four-year-old Saltonstall is out to provide a third victory for Godolphin in the fiercely competitive Royal Hunt Cup on day two of Royal Ascot, Wednesday, 20 June.
The Pivotal colt’s trainer Michael Halford captured the heritage handicap over Ascot’s straight mile with Portage in 2016, adding to the success of the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Invisible Man six years earlier.
Like Portage, Saltonstall heads to Royal Ascot on the back of a comfortable victory at the Curragh, Ireland, on his most recent appearance, when running on well for a length verdict in a mile premier handicap on 27 May.
Saltonstall finished a distant third on heavy ground in a Cork handicap over an extended mile in April and was runner-up in the Irish Lincolnshire Premier Handicap on the opening day of Ireland’s 2018 Flat season at Naas on 25 March – his first appearance for nearly a year.
William Buick takes the ride for the third time on Saltonstall, who has 9st 5lbs and breaks from stall three.
The Godolphin runner faces 29 rivals including last year’s winner Zhui Feng, York handicap scorer Afaak plus course and distance victor Cape Byron.
Michael Halford commented: “All is good with Saltonstall and his preparation for Royal Ascot has gone really well.
“He has a similar profile to Portage in that he is a four-year-old with low mileage who goes into the Royal Hunt Cup on the back of a good run.
“Saltonstall is drawn three and a lot will depend where the pace develops, but I have been delighted with him going into this race.
“William Buick liked him a lot when he rode him to victory at the Curragh and he knows the horse, which is another bonus.”
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Saeed bin Suroor
Rarely has there been such intense discussion on the week’s premier juvenile race, as rival stables argue the merits of their respective runners.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Sergei Prokofiev has twice been very impressive in Ireland, while Newmarket trainer John Gosden produced Calyx for a sparkling win on racecourse debut only 10 days ago.
But Saeed is happy that his two juveniles have the right credentials for the hotly contested 24-runner two-year-old race.
Dubai Legacy won on debut, over six and a half furlongs at Doncaster, while Burj improved on his second outing to win a six-furlong novice on the all-weather at Wolverhampton.
Saeed said, “I was very pleased with Dubai Legacy’s success at Doncaster, and the Coventry looks the right race for him.
“He won on a softer surface, but I think he will be fine on quicker ground,” he pointed out.
Of Burj, the trainer said, “Burj won well last time out on the all-weather, having run well on quick ground on his first start, and he is ready to take the step up in class.
“It looks a very competitive race, but we have two contenders who deserve to take their chance,” he added.