California Chrome sparkling ahead of Royal Ascot run

Will Hayler, at Newmarket

Thursday 11 June 2015 12:44, UK

California Chrome, ridden by Frankie Dettori, pictured ahead of his Ascot workout
Image: California Chrome: Set for his second start on turf

Connections of California Chrome admit that the Kentucky Derby winner could be facing his toughest test yet as he gears up for Wednesday's Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The admirable four-year-old was last seen on a racecourse when finishing second to Prince Bishop in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March and has been lodging with Rae Guest in Newmarket for the last couple of months, but trainer Art Sherman and part-owner Steve Coburn have now arrived in preparation for next week's Royal meeting.

The pair were on hand as California Chrome enjoyed a routine spin on the Watered Gallop in Newmarket, with big-race rider William Buick in the plate as the duo finished comfortably clear of a lead horse.

Sherman said: "He looked good and he was impressive the way he finished up the hill. This is all a totally new experience for him, but I'm sure he will be fine as he's a smart horse.

"He has run on the grass before but it was completely different to what he will face at Ascot.

"He looks good and he looks fit. My son said he worked really nicely down at Ascot last week.

"I think it's the biggest challenge he's faced so far as there are some great horses in the race. You only need to look at his odds to understand that. He's going to be, what, 12/1? 15/1? He's usually an 8/5 or an even-money chance. So I'm going in with my eyes wide open.

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"I was really pleased to see him today and to see William ride him. I'm sure he's the right man for the job.

"I get goosebumps watching him every time. He’s a push-button horse. I'm just glad I got him."

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Sherman described his visit to Newmarket as "eye-opening".

"This is a horse paradise," he said. "We have some nice courses, but nothing like this. So much grass, so much open space. It's awesome."

Stetson-wearing Coburn, who has previously hinted at reservations about running the horse at the meeting, confirmed that the decision to line up had ultimately been made by the majority owner of the horse, Perry Martin, but insisted that he was up for the challenge.

"Look, the horse was really tired after Dubai," he said. "We were hoping to get him back to the States and prepare him for the Breeders' Cup. My partner Perry Martin decided to send him here and he’s here. But I'm loving every minute of it. This is my first trip to England, but he's taken us a whole bunch of first trips. He's a horse of dreams.

"He’ll give every ounce of his heart. He always does. On his worst day he’s still been 100 per cent a pleasure to watch.

"We've seen a lot of different things and met a lot of great people. We've got fans from all over the world. When we got back from Kentucky, there were boxes on our front porch with letters from all over the world and some of them just said 'California Chrome, Nevada USA' on them. We've answered every one of them. These are people that love this horse, they've embraced him, and I think that's because we're just two regular guys who did it. We didn't have a boatload of money, we stuck to our gameplan, and it's paid off in quite a tremendous way.

"This is going to be the toughest race of his life. Everything is new. The course is new, the running uphill is new, the running downhill is new. It's going to be tough in this race. He'll always try his best, he gives 100 per cent of his heart every time, but it's going to be tough.  This is our once-in-a-lifetime shot and we're going to enjoy it. But, like I said, if he just comes out sound, I'll be happy."

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