Royal runner Slipofthepen looking to punch Ascot ticket

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Slipofthepen will bid to punch his ticket to Royal Ascot when he takes on three rivals in the Heron Stakes at Sandown on Tuesday evening.

The unbeaten colt, who is owned by the King and Queen, is a general 16-1 chance for the Betfred Derby a fortnight on Saturday.

However, it seems likely that Slipofthepen, who will be ridden by James Doyle, will bypass the Epsom Classic and head to the Royal meeting, where he holds an entry in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

The son of Night Of Thunder won a novice race over a mile on debut at Kempton in November.

He returned to the same all-weather course and distance to score with some ease in a conditions event last month, yet Sunday’s Poule d’Essai des Poulins at ParisLongchamp came a little too quickly.

The King’s racing manager, John Warren, said: “We were disappointed not to get Slipofthepen to the French 2000 Guineas, but the ground was too heavy for such a good-moving colt.

John Gosden

Image: John Gosden trains Slipofthepen for the King and Queen

“We are hoping for a good showing so that we can find out where he sits to be aimed at Royal Ascot.

“John Gosden thinks he is a pretty smart colt, so we are treating him with plenty of respect.”

Slipofthepen has a little to find on ratings with the Ralph Beckett-trained Grey’s Monument, who won twice last season as a juvenile and signed off with a runner-up finish in the Group Two Horris Hill at Newbury.

He tackles a mile for only the second time in eight starts, having opened his Classic campaign with a 19-length defeat by subsequent French Guineas runner-up Isaac Shelby in the Greenham back at the Berkshire track.

Beckett said: “The track and ground should suit him. He’s in great shape and he’s come on for his seasonal debut and we’re looking forward to seeing him on a round track.

“I don’t think he got bogged down in the mud (in the Greenham). I just think he needed it. It will be only his second run over a mile, but arguably it was his best run at York when he won over this trip, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The Charlie Johnston-trained Finn’s Charm, who won a decent mile handicap at Musselburgh on his return, and Captain Winters, who was 10 lengths behind him on his seasonal bow, complete the field for the Listed contest.

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