Shrewd owner Tony Bloom hoping for more big race success with top stayer Stratum in JLT Cup

TONY BLOOM’s famous blue and white silks have been carried to victory in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the Northumberland Plate already this year – and now he hopes Stratum can provide him with a winner in the JLT Cup.

Willie Mullins’ gelding comes into the contest off the back of an excellent third at Royal Ascot.

Tony Bloom is hoping his famous colours will be carried to victory in another valuable handicap
PA:Press Association

Despite the fact that was a very good run, connections of the five-year-old are hoping headgear can help him progress even further.

Assitant trainer Patrick Mullins said: “We’ve put the hood on him as he was keen enough at Ascot, so we’re hoping it will help him settle.

“He ran on really well at Ascot, he was probably the horse to take out of the race.”

The two mile, £100,000 contest is a new highlight on the fixture list and gives stayers who aren’t necessarily good enough to make the Group grade a chance to ply their trade at a slightly lower level.

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Mullins added: “There’s huge prize-money for this race, JLT are to be commended, and hopefully he can bring back some sterling. If he produces his run from Ascot, he should be bang there again.

“I don’t see the ground being an issue. He’s versatile, he handled fast ground well at Ascot and came out of that really well.

“He’s still only had 12 runs in his life, so he’s definitely open to more improvement.”

Nakeeta (far side) was a good winner of the Ebor last season
PA:Press Association

Among those taking on the favourite is Nakeeta, Iain Jardine’s seven-year-old who went oh so close to winning the Chester Cup a couple of seasons ago.

He then went on to win the Ebor before finishing fifth in the Melbourne Cup, and clearly has the class to go close if back on song following two heavy defeats.

His trainer said: “The horse is well. He ran in the Northumberland Plate, but he didn’t get much of a run in that.

“He’s improving quietly now and we’ll be aiming for the Ebor later on in the season.”

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Also having a crack at the valuable prize is Mark Johnston’s Hochfeld.

The son of Cape Cross has only had one run so far this term and will need to improve, but on the form of a couple of runaway wins last season he clearly has the ability to stake a claim.

Johnston said: “I had quite a good hand for this at the five-day stage, but unfortunately they were all down low in the weights and Hochfeld was the only one that could get in.

Mark Johnston will rely on Hochfeld for the valuable contest
PA:Press Association

“He is coming back from a long break and he probably needed that run at Newmarket last week.

“This might come a bit soon for a horse that had previously come back off a long lay off.

“It was a good performance off a long lay off. We were thinking of waiting for Goodwood after that, but this is a good prize.”

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Two other horses with decent chances are the Hamdan Al Maktoum duo of Quloob and Almoghared.

Al Maktoum’s racing manager, Angus Gold said: “Owen (Burrows) has put some cheekpieces on Quloob just to help him concentrate.

“He was still a weak horse last season and was always going to be stronger this year.

“He ran well first time back this year and will surely stay an extra two furlongs. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t run well.

Almoghared (light blue) ran a cracker to finish fourth in the Queens Vase
PA:Press Association

“John Gosden’s horse (Almoghared) ran a smashing race at Royal Ascot (fourth in Queen’s Vase) to say it was just the third run of his life.

“He’s still a big baby, he’s come a long way in three months, but I’m very fond of this horse.

“He’s a half-brother to Taghrooda and there should be plenty more to come, he’s a nice sort of horse.”

Completing the field are Amazing Red, Stars Over The Sea, Arch Villain, Sir Chauvelin, Quloob, Saunter, Newlands, Island Brave, Buzz, Cleonte, Kloud Gate, Percy’s Word, Coeur De Lion and Golden Wolf.

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