Harbour Watch, one of lasts season’s leading two-year-olds, but a horse who has yet to set foot on a racecourse, this term, has been ruled out of his choice of engagements at next week’s eagerly anticipated Royal Ascot meeting, and will instead take his chance at Newmarket, at the end of the month, writes Elliot Slater.
The news will come as a blow to the many fans of the Richard Hannon-trained colt, who was unbeaten in all three outings, last term, and who held engagements in both the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes, over a mile, and the Group 3 Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs.
The son of Acclamation had been a strong fancy for the 2000 Guineas, but missed the first colts’ classic of the season, having failed to reach peak fitness in time, because of a setback he sustained towards the end of last season, when being trained for a crack at the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes.
Hannon explained that he will aim the colt at the Group 3 John Sunley Memorial Criterion Stakes at Newmarket, on June 30, as he feels it unwise to start his charge off in Group 1 company, this campaign, without a previous outing. He went on to reason that it would also be counter-productive to carry a penalty against race-fit rivals in the Jersey Stakes.
Owned by Robin Heffer and Qatar Bloodstock, whose orange and black colours were carried with such distinction by the high-class Canford Cliffs, during the previous two seasons, Harbour Watch followed a win at Salisbury on his debut, last June, with an impressive success over the useful Buraaz in a conditions event at Newmarket’s July fixture, a month later.
He completed his hattrick when easily accounting for the decent Bannock in the Group 2 Tanqueray Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, a few weeks later, but was not seen again for the rest of the season.