A Melbourne Cup campaign could be on the cards for English stayer Dartmouth if he can keep his winning momentum going in the Group 1 £1.15m King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Ascot on July 23.
Dartmouth, who is raced by Her Majesty The Queen and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, is the winner of his last three starts and has been installed as the 2-1 favourite with Ladbrokes in the six horse field.
The Dubawi stallion kicks off his latest campaign with a win in the Group 3 £45,000 John Porter Stakes (1 mile, 5 furlongs) at Chelmsford on April 16 followed by a win in the Group 3 £75,000 Ormonde Stakes (1 mile, 5 furlongs) at Chester on May 6.
Dartmouth then went to the Ascot where he won the Group 2 £225,000 Hardwicke Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) on June 18 and Stoute can’t see why Dartmouth won’t continue on with his good form and expects him to race well again on the weekend.
“Dartmouth has kept improving. He started the year on 101 and has improved with every race (now 119). He is very consistent and will run a good, solid race on Saturday,” Stoute told the Racing Post.
Racing Victoria’s international scout Leigh Jordon said that if Dartmouth was able to find the winner’s stall again at Ascot this weekend, there is a huge possibility that The Queen could have a runner in Australia’s greatest race, the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1.
“If he does win, it obviously changes their view on where they head next,” Jordon told Racing.com’s Racing Ahead on RSN 927.
“What a great thing it would be to have the Queen in her 90th birthday year to have a runner here in the Melbourne Cup.
“But I think a lot of it will rest on what happens on Saturday.”
The Aidan O’Brien trained Highland Reel is also competing in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and good performance could see the four year old return to Australia for the 2016 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
The champion Irish trainer brought Highland Reel to Melbourne last year when he ran third to Winx in the Group 1 $3m Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley when trying to win back to Cox Plates after collecting the winning trophy in 2014 with Adelaide.
“I think he’s a chance definitely, depending on what he does on the weekend,” Jordon said.
“Probably not for the Cox Plate, I think he’s more a Caulfield Cup horse now, so we’ll see how he runs.”
“The pleasing part talking with Aidan; he’s come the past couple of years.
“He won the Cox Plate with Adelaide, he ran third last year with Highland Reel and Bondi Beach and Kingfisher ran in the Melbourne Cup.
“He’s comfortable with the operation at Werribee.
“He might even look at the Caulfield Cup this year.
“Why wouldn’t he? The race is worth $3 million.
“I get the feeling that’s on the radar as well. I expect to see Aidan back this year again which is great.”
In early betting for the Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au Dartmouth is listed as a $51 chance with the O’Brien trained Order Of St George heading the market order at $11 ahead of 2015 runner up Max Dynamite and the Darren Weir trained Signoff at $17.