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Despite connections of the Sir Michael Stoute-trained stallion Snow Sky considering a range of the season’s other international majors the Melbourne Cup 2015 at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November is still an option for the authoritative Hardwicke Stakes winner.
The $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) has been on the agenda of Stoute’s talented young Nayef four-year-old since his impressive win over Goodwood Cup winner Brown Panther in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (2800m) in late May.
The Tom Dascombe-trained Brown Panther will miss up to six weeks of racing due to a fracture after his Yorkshire Cup second.
Snow Sky however made it two feature wins on the trot over the weekend at Royal Ascot with the 12/1 shot beating home the better fancied Eagle Top in a strong performance in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2400m) with jockey Pat Smullen in the saddle.
None of his rivals got close in the end including the defending champ and stablemate to the winner Telescope who ran sixth on the back of a win at Newbury back in May.
The ease of Snow Sky’s Hardwicke success has Stoute having “a rethink” as to the major season aim for the horse who is on track for a big preparation after the three and a half-length victory.
“The Irish St Leger is likely to come too soon, but things like Melbourne (for the Melbourne Cup) and the stayers’ race at Ascot on Champions Day (in October) are possibilities,” joint-owner Michael Owen said according to Racing Victoria.
The staying race at Royal Ascot Owen refers to for the Prince Khalid bin Abdullah-raced galloper is the British Champions Long Distance Cup (3200m).
Another race between now and then being considered for the Hardwicke Stakes winner is the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2414m) back at Ascot Racecourse next month on July 25.
“Snow Sky is a very progressive horse and I was really impressed the way he settled it off the home turn,” Stoute told Racing Post.
“I thought he was going to be a Melbourne Cup horse so he’s not entered in the King George, but we’ll have to have a think now. He’s won a few quid today.”
To get Snow Sky into the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes would cost connections a supplementary fee of £75,000, something Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe confirmed they were considering after the no-fluke win over the weekend.
“They said it was a falsely run race but really and truly he had got them by the time they got to the turn, and it was not like he was hanging on,” Grimthorpe said of the Hardwicke Stakes.
“He won by nearly four lengths so there were no hard-luck stories behind. It was an incredibly exciting performance.
“The way he did it will make us rethink our plans. I think we have to consider the King George.”
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