Win And You're In: Thursday's Norfolk Stakes Led By Full Brother To Champion Battaash - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Win And You’re In: Thursday’s Norfolk Stakes Led By Full Brother To Champion Battaash

Shadwell’s Battaash

Magnier, Tabor, Smith, Westerberg, and Brant's The Antarctic (IRE) and Amo Racing And Omnihorse Racing's Walbank (IRE) lead 11 runners in Thursday's 5-furlong Norfolk Stakes (G2) for 2-year-olds at Royal Ascot. The Norfolk Stakes winner will receive an automatic starting position in the US$1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) through the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series.

The Breeders' Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 82 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 4-5.

The Antarctic, a full brother to champion sprinter Battaash (IRE), has won both his starts. Trained by Aidan O'Brien, the gray son of Dark Angel (IRE) broke his maiden in a 5-furlong Irish Stallion Farms EBF race at Tipperary on April 21, and came back to win again by three-quarters of a length in the 5-furlong Coolmore Stud Calyx Race at Naas on May 15. O'Brien has saddled three winners of the Norfolk, starting in 2001 with Johannesburg, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Belmont Park. Ryan Moore has the mount on The Antarctic.

Walbank, trained by David Loughnane, has a race over the Ascot course when he finished second on debut behind favored Noble Style (GB) in the Jemima Howden Novice Stakes at 5 furlongs on May 7. A son of Kodiak (GB), Walbank broke his maiden in style his next start, winning the 5-furlong Sky Bet Sunday Series EBF Novice Stakes by 7 lengths at York as the odds-on favorite. Loughnane saddled Go Bears Go (IRE) to a second-place finish in last year's Norfolk Stakes behind Perfect Power (IRE). Go Bears Go ran second to Twilight Gleaming (IRE) in the Breeders Juvenile Turf Sprint last year at Del Mar. Rossa Ryan has the mount on Walbank.

Clipper Logistics' Pillow Talk (IRE), trained by Karl Burke, is the only filly entered in the Norfolk Stakes. Dismissed at 18-1 on debut in the Watch on Racing TV Fillies' Novice Stakes at Nottingham on April 26, she closed strongly in the final furlong to finish second, defeated by a half-length. A daughter of Kodiak (GB), Pillow Talk broke her maiden in her next start at York on May 13 in the listed Knights Solicitors British EBF Marygate Fillies' Stakes at 5 furlongs. Racing strongly throughout in the center of the course, Pillow Talk battled stablemate Yahsat (IRE) inside the final sixteenth and prevailed by a neck under Danny Tudhope, who retains the mount for the Norfolk. Burke and Tudhope teamed up to win Wednesday's Queen Mary Stakes (G2) for 2-year-old fillies with Clipper Logistics' Dramatised (IRE).

Brian Goodyear's Brave Nation (IRE) was also impressive in his debut. A son of Sioux Nation, who won the 2017 Norfolk Stakes, Brave Nation dominated the Download The At The Races App EBF Maiden Stakes at Doncaster on April 23, going clear in the final furlong for a 6-length win as the 2-1 favorite. Brave Nation is trained by Michael Bell, who saddled The Lir Jet (IRE) to victory in the 2020 Norfolk Stakes.

Another son of Sioux Nation is Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Alsabah's Bakeel (IRE), who has a win over the course on debut. Trained by Andrew Balding, Bakeel captured the 5-furlong Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Condition Stakes on April 27 by 1 ¼ lengths. Jack Mitchell has the mount on Bakeel.

Trainer Richard Fahey won last year's Norfolk with Perfect Power, who went on to score back-to-back Group 1 wins in the Darley Prix Morny and the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes. This year, Fahey starts Steve Bradley's The Riddler (GB), who broke his maiden in his second start on May 6 in the British Stallion Studs Restricted Novice Stakes at Ripon. In his most recent start, The Riddler, a son of Brazen Beau (AUS), finished third, defeated by three-quarters of a length in the bet365 Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes at Beverley on May 28. The Riddler will be ridden by Paul Hanagan.

As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees for the winner of the Norfolk Stakes to start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, which will be run at 5 1/2 furlongs. Breeders' Cup also will provide a US$40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the pre-entry deadline of Oct. 24 to receive the rewards.

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