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Toronado reappears in Queen Anne Stakes

Updated: Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 11:18 | Comments

Toronado (near side) found only Dawn Approach too good at Royal Ascot 12 months ago
Toronado (near side) found only Dawn Approach too good at Royal Ascot 12 months ago

Richard Hannon believes Toronado represents his best chance of a winner as he puts the finishing touches to his team ahead of his first Royal Ascot as a trainer in his own right.

Runner-up to Dawn Approach in the St James's Palace Stakes 12 months ago, Toronado arrives in Berkshire for the Queen Anne Stakes without the aid of a previous run.

He has not been sighted since he disappointed on his first run over 10 furlongs in the Juddmonte International at York and a Breeders' Cup bid was subsequently abandoned after he failed to shine in gallop at Lingfield.

However, confidence is sky high in the Hannon camp and the first-season handled is not perturbed by the fact Toronado will be having his first run of the season in top-class company.

"Like my dad, all I ever ask for is at least one winner at Royal Ascot, and I suppose our best chance comes in the very first race, with Toronado in the Queen Anne Stakes," said Hannon, who assisted his father when Paco Boy and Canford Cliffs won this race twice in three years for the yard.

"This has always been Toronado's first target, and his preparation could not have gone better.

"He's in great nick and we've been very happy with him going in. His work has been good. He will improve for it, but I'd be disappointed if he didn't win.

"He won the Craven first time out last year, so we don't see lack of a prep-race being a problem, and we were all very impressed when we went a mile on the grass up at Everleigh last week, looking every inch the horse we think he is.

"However, now he has to go and do it on the track again - fingers crossed he'll come through the test with flying colours.

"It's the best meeting of the year, no doubt there are some great horses running, but hopefully a few of our big guns can win early on in the week."

Hannon also runs Producer, ridden by Ryan Moore, and he added on www.richardhannonracing.co.uk: "We also run Producer here rather than having him hump a big weight in the Royal Hunt Cup.

"He has not run since winning a Group Two in Turkey last year, but he is very well and with place money down to sixth, who knows."

Chief market rival for Toronado is Aidan O'Brien's American import Verrazano, third in the Lockinge at Newbury behind Hannon's Olympic Glory on his European debut which was his first run on turf.

Joseph O'Brien expects considerable improvement from his first run and told At The Races: "He's done well since the Lockinge, we feel he's come on since the race.

"We feel he'll like Ascot, it's going to be his second run on grass, he should have learned plenty from Newbury so we're looking forward to it.

"The ground wasn't too bad at Newbury, but the faster the better. He's a very uncomplicated horse, he ran a lovely race at Newbury and we're looking forward to it."

Four years ago Freddy Head's brilliant mare Goldikova just held off Paco Boy and this year the French handler is bringing just one horse over for the meeting, Goldikova's brother Anodin who was supplemented for the race.

He finished just a length and a half behind superstar Cirrus Des Aigles on his latest outing.

"He's been very good and I think he's improved this year, he's very well," said Head

"He's a horse I like from a family I know very well - they have all got better with age, none of them were precocious.

"Maybe it was a career-best effort last time but he also ran very well in the Moulin last year when the leader (Maxios) got first run on everything.

"I think he has a good each-way chance.

"It is very hard to compare him with Goldikova as she was something special. I can't say that he is as good as her, but he is a good horse.

"At times in his career I didn't train him very skilfully and at one stage we ran him in blinkers, as he always seemed to idle a bit in behind, but that made him too keen. He never ran two races the same last year, we couldn't find out his best trip, and it was always a bit messy.

"Now we know that he is a real miler, that he loves good ground and that you can wait with him in a race as he needs to be relaxed.

"We are hoping for a good pace. The straight course should be in his favour and the stiff mile will be ideal for him too.

"We took the decision to supplement him because Olympic Glory is supposed to be the best of the English horses and we have met him twice. Last year he beat us by a short head (in the Moulin) and then we beat him the other day (in the d'Ispahan)."

Andrew Balding is doubly represented by the globetrotting Side Glance and the much-improved Tullius, who finished second in the Lockinge.

"Side Glance is in great form at home and he's got some very good form. He was third to Frankel in this race two years ago," said Balding.

"He seems as good as ever and loves the straight track at Ascot, so hopefully he can pick up some place money.

"Tullius ran a terrific race in the Lockinge and was quite impressive at Sandown the time before. He really likes to get his toe in and to be at his very best he likes soft ground. It's not going to be soft, but being the first race of the whole meeting, it should be beautiful ground.

"It's a Group One for good prize-money, so we don't mind running horses against each other in those races.

"Toronado is obviously the stand-out horse in the race, but he's having his first run of the year. Tullius has pretty much beaten all the others, and Side Glance, on his day, can beat the others.

"Both will be ridden to obtain the best possible placing, but if Toronado is at his best, he'll obviously take some beating."

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