Alpha Delphini on course for Royal Ascot

Alpha Delphini beats Mabs Cross is a York thriller
Image: Alpha Delphini beats Mabs Cross is a York thriller

Bryan Smart is looking forward to Royal Ascot with Alpha Delphini following his fine return to action when second to Battaash in the Temple Stakes at Haydock.

Last year's Nunthorpe winner was sent off at 20-1 in a red-hot renewal of the Group Two feature - but yet again outran his odds with another consistent display.

Adding further substance to the form was Nunthorpe runner-up Mabs Cross in third.

"I was absolutely delighted with him for a first run of the season," said Smart.

"Battaash is a very good horse, there's no doubt about that, he beat us on Saturday on a track he loves, and we beat him at York, so we'll meet him again, there's no doubt.

"He won the Nunthorpe fair and square - it's hard enough to win any race, never mind a Group One.

"He proved on Saturday yet again there is very little between him and Mabs Cross. When he went to France (Prix de l'Abbaye) it was one race too many and he didn't travel well.

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"He's so consistent, take France out when he had excuses and it is the best part of two years since he finished out of the first three."

Alpha Delphini is now set to take on Battaash and Mabs Cross once more in the King's Stand Stakes at the Royal meeting.

Smart added: "He's come out of it really well, he looks happy and we'll go to Royal Ascot with a good chance.

"If the same Battaash turns up then he'll take a lot of beating, but we'll improve for the run, as he always carries plenty of condition.

"The best thing about him is he's got form on soft and fast ground, he just wouldn't want it rattling fast, as he's a big horse.

"But he's a gent and tries his hardest."

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