ROYAL Ascot is likely to be next on the agenda for Night Of Thunder following his shock Qipco 2000 Guineas success at Newmarket.
Richard Hannon’s charge was sent off a 40-1 chance for the first Classic of the season but proved half a length too good for hot favourite Kingman in the one-mile heat, despite hanging across the track in the closing stages under Kieren Fallon.
The field split into two groups and while Hannon admits the situation was not ideal, he believes it had little bearing on his charge reversing a four-and-a-half-length beating at the hands of Kingman in the Greenham Stakes last month.
“It is a shame when they’ve split,” he said. “I think there was a difference of opinion as those drawn on the far side stayed on the far side and this side stayed this side.
“I think our horse probably did win fair and square. He started on the far side and finished on this side so effectively he ran on both sides.
“I didn’t think he would turn it [the Newbury form] round, I thought he could get closer. We were very disappointed at Newbury. Hughesie [Richard Hughes] was down, he came himself to see the horse and thought he’d win because he’s always loved the horse.
“If he’d got beaten a length or something, he would improve for it, but he got a four-and-a-half-length thrashing from Kingman. That leaves you going home thinking perhaps none of our Guineas horses are that good. To the horse’s credit, he has come on a lot for his trial as all of ours do. Our horses just need it and I don’t think there was anything flukey about his race and he’s obviously improved massively.”
Night Of Thunder does hold an entry in the Investec Derby and while he is a son of Dubawi, he is out of a Galileo mare which offers some hope of seeing out a mile and a half at Epsom.
However, Hannon feels the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot is a more likely target. “If you look at his last furlong, he’s obviously got a smart turn of foot. Will he stay a mile and a half with that sort of turn of foot? You would have to say unlikely but there is only one Derby and the best way to find out is to put him in there and find out. I’ll speak to [racing manager] Bruce Raymond and [owner] Saeed Manana and I’d say the St James’s Palace would be the most likely option.”
Hannon also fielded the fourth-placed Shifting Power and seventh, Toormore at Headquarters, with the former pleasing his handler in being beaten three lengths on what was only his fourth outing.
He said: “I was delighted with Shifting Power. He could be a very good horse over a mile and a quarter. He’s lightly raced up until now and I actually didn’t get too fancy with the entries for him so we might have to stump up a bit of money to supplement him to some of the nice races.
“Frankie [Dettori] got off him and thought he might be a French Derby horse. If he’s going to go in that, he’ll have to be supplemented.
“There are races for him at Royal Ascot and he’ll be a nice horse to follow throughout the year.”
Hannon admitted he was disappointed with Toormore’s effort though, with last year’s champion juvenile finishing four and a quarter lengths behind the winner after claiming the Craven Stakes on his reappearance last month.
“Toormore was disappointing for me. I knew at halfway he wasn’t going to win – he obviously just ran a bit flat,” concluded Hannon.