Co-trainer Sam Freedman believes Artorius is the one to beat in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes, the highlight on the final day of Royal Ascot.
Speaking from Charlie Fellowes’ yard in Newmarket on Thursday morning, Freedman, said: “Artorius travelled over well. He only lost 4kg on the flight, whereas last year he lost 9kg, and he has put on 6 or 7kg since he arrived in Newmarket last Thursday night – he is thriving.
“He had a little blow on the watered gallop on Tuesday morning, not a lot just quickening up a furlong, and tomorrow morning he will do his main bit of work at Ascot – that is the plan eight days out.
“He is definitely stronger than last year and has come back a better horse. He was probably not going as well last year on the back of the carnivals. We stretched him out over seven and a half furlongs when he met Anamoe last time and he was beaten only three quarters of a length. Previous to that, he had won a Group One over six and a half furlongs and what you will see, hopefully, in his run is a little more practical speed. I am not suggesting that he is going to be up near the pace or anything like that but, hopefully, if he can be three or four lengths closer than 12 months ago, it will help. That is what we have been trying to work on for the past 12 months.”
Artorius is the ante-post favourite for the race, with Hong Kong raider Wellington, Highfield Princess and Kinross heading the potential opposition.
Freedman said: “If you look at the form, he looks to be the horse with the best credentials. Wellington has good form in Hong Kong and we would consider him a danger, but I think our horse has improved into his four-year-old season.
“Artorius is a versatile horse – he is not a five-furlong horse but has placed in a Group One over a mile. I think a stiff six furlongs with a stiff tempo is ideal and, at the end of that as you saw last year, he really comes into his own.
“I am not so concerned about the opposition, but more where he will end up and where he will get to in the run. I am confident taking on any of the sprinters in the world, but it is a case of getting the right transit and a bit of luck.”
James McDonald has been booked to ride with Freedman adding: “James McDonald has done a bit of work with him at home and knows the horse pretty well. He has been keen to get on the horse for a while.
“We offered the ride to Zac Purton but he is trying to break the record in Hong Kong and next port of call was always going to be Jay Mac. That is not to say that Jamie Spencer didn’t ride him correctly last year – he rode to instructions and rode him very well.
“I think Zac would be pretty confident that Artorius would be the horse to beat over here if you were going to line him up against Wellington. I would not swap him for anything.”