Peter Chapple-Hyam backing Defence Of Fort to shine at Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury

Peter Chapple-Hyam is hoping to see the real Defence Of Fort when he lines up in the Virgin Bet Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury.

The Starspangledbanner colt powered to a four-and-a-half-length success on fast ground at Ascot on his debut in July, but is on a retrieval mission after finishing a well-held fourth to Silver Knott in the Solario at Sandown in August.

Chapple-Hyam said he had excuses for that effort and better can be expected of the imposing youngster who cost just 19,000 guineas.

"He's fine. I was a bit disappointed with his last run and he came back coughing after it," he said.

"He was sick and it took quite a long time to get him back right.

"I am not so sure we would have beat the winner, anyhow. But I think we would have finished a lot closer than we did.

"Whether he is up to Classic standard or not, we will soon find out, but I will be disappointed if he doesn't run well."

Meanwhile, Ed Bethell feels Oviedo is being overlooked and has the form in the book to pose a major threat in the Group Three feature.

The Lope De Vega colt won a Doncaster novice on debut and was immediately pitched into the Acomb at York on his second start, where he finished third to subsequent Dewhurst winner Chaldean.

Though things did not go according to plan when well-supported for the valuable Goffs Million at the Curragh last month, the Middleham Moor handler feels Oviedo has a better chance than most in the seven-furlong contest.

Bethell said: "Ireland was obviously a bit disappointing, but those sales races often produce funny results.

"He seems none the worse for that race and he seems to have come back in really good form, and I am looking forward to running him on Saturday - I think the track at Newbury should really suit him."

A 50-1 shot for next year's Derby, Bethell believes Oviedo can bounce back to his best against eight opponents and prove any Classic aspirations are not a pipe dream.

"We will definitely take things one step at a time," he added. "We will get Saturday out of the way and it will either be a winter of dreaming or a winter of 'what will we do next?'.

"But I'm very happy with the horse and how he is training, and I think he should run a nice race, but it is a race full of unexposed horses.

"The bottom line is, how good are the maiden horses? How many have achieved what Oviedo has achieved in finishing third in an Acomb that has worked out ridiculously well. That is the big question."

Grey's Monument is the most experienced in the line-up, having had six runs already this term for the in-form Ralph Beckett.

He is on a hat-trick following nursery wins at Haydock and York, where he tackled a mile for the first time.

Easing ground will play to the strength of the son of Territories, according to the trainer, who said: "I'm hoping the rain that has fallen at Newbury will bring his stamina into play, because it looked at York like a mile suited him very well and I suspect even further would suit him.

"So we will see how that pans out, but he is very well and he should put up a good show."

Representing the powerful Charlie Appleby operation is Striking Star, a Dubawi colt who made a nice start to his career when winning a Sandown novice last month.

Appleby said on the Godolphin website: "We have been pleased with the way Striking Star has come out of his win at Sandown and conditions at Newbury should suit him.

"He has to step up on what he has achieved and we hope to find out what level we will be dealing with as a three-year-old."

Latest news