Peter Chapple-Hyam is readying a trio of Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned runners for Royal Ascot as the Dubai based owners seek their third win on the bounce at the meeting.
Their challenge this year is headed by stable-star Deja who will take his chance in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. The five-year-old gelding has won all but one of his four starts for the Newmarket handler and despite that defeat coming last time out at Newcastle Chapple-Hyam feels he still has more to offer off a mark of 100.
“You probably can’t say that having a mark of 100 means your well handicapped, but it’s more about ability,” said Chapple-Hyam. “I think he has the ability and if everything goes right, he can go well off his mark. He did his last piece of work on Saturday and he’s ready to go. There’s a bit of juice about in the ground, so everything’s a go.”
Deja missed his intended return to action at Newmarket last weekend due to the quick ground, however, the fact he hasn’t run since November might be a bit of a blessing in disguise.
“He’s a horse that often saves his best after a big break between races so in hindsight it might be a good thing I was made to wait.” Continued Chapple-Hyam. “As much as I’d like to have given him a run he’s not a horse that takes that much work to get fit.”
Andrea Atzeni is once again the name that appears next to Deja’s name on the racecard. The Italian has been in the plate for the gelding’s last two victories and rode him in that final prep on Saturday.
“Andrea knows him 100% and he called me to ride him.” Explained the trainer. “He knows what he’s like, he hits a bit of a flat spot and then kicks into gear after that. Someone who didn’t know him might wonder what he was doing and sit there rather than urge him on for a bit, so I think it’s a big help to have Andrea on him.”
Atzeni is also engaged on Haydock winner Bharani Star who holds an entry in the Ribblesdale Stakes on the opening day of the Royal meeting. The daughter of Sea The Stars got a dead-heat verdict to get off the mark last week.
“I would have preferred to have started her over a mile and a quarter this season.” explained Chapple-Hyam reflecting on that run. “I hadn’t been that hard on her and I just wanted to get the win into her. That’s the reason we ended up going a mile and a half. She’ll stay a mile and a half no problem now and she seems to have come on a lot for the run.”
On paper, it would seem a big ask to go from breaking a maiden in a Haydock handicap to stepping into Group Two company but not an impossible one according to her handler.
“It is a big step and I could probably go and win four or five handicaps with her,” said Chapple-Hyam. “I don’t think fillies like her are bred to do that. At the end of the day, they are bred to be broodmares and any black-type you can get them the better. I believe she is a stakes filly but whether she’s a Group Two filly only time will tell.”
Phoenix Thoroughbreds and their trainer are also hoping Mia Mento may squeeze into the Silver Wokingham field. She has caught the eye on all three starts since joining the Chapple-Hyam ranks and had it not be for a poor start last time at Newmarket perhaps should have gained a much-deserved success.
“She’s just very unlucky, or perhaps she makes her own bad luck,” joked her trainer. “She’s honest and tries and if we could get her in the race, I think it would really suit her. They’ll go quick, so I just have to get her out of the stalls! I popped her out of some earlier this week and she pinged them so that shouldn’t be a problem now. If we can get in, I can see her running a big race.”
The trio will be looking to follow in the hoofprints of Advertise and Signora Cabello who put the Phoenix Thoroughbreds name on the winners’ sheet at the last two Royal Ascot meetings.