Royal Ascot News: Stoute protege Horton sending Asjad to Wokingham

James Horton learned plenty as assistant to Sir Michael Stoute but obviously has real talent as he is sending runners to Royal Ascot in his first season training.

The fact that James Horton is sending horses to Royal Ascot in his first season as a trainer is testament to how quickly his star is rising.

Of course, formerly being assistant to Sir Michael Stoute didn't go amiss and now Horton is training for John and Jess Dance's Middleham operation that has its eyes on some top prizes.

Horton has sent out seven winners since leaving Newmarket at a strike rate of 28%.

A Redcard treble on Easter Monday helped the figures with Asjad putting down a marker for a potential run over six furlongs at Ascot.

"The Wokingham is the plan next," said Horton.

"I think Ascot will suit him, I think he wants a level track. I probably shouldn't have run him at Newmarket, he hated the track and I probably brought him back a bit quick after Redcar. So he'll have a nice bit of time now between York and the Wokingham and that will be plan A."

The Redcar win for Phantom Flight was poignant, being a horse who gave Horton his first ever runner and then his first winner but the trainer is learning, like all other handlers, he is at the mercy of the handicapper.

"We'll wait and see what the handicapper does and that will guide us a bit to what our next step is. He's (Phantom Flight) a horse that has done nothing wrong at home and has improved every time he has gone to the track."

Horton is not shy about going for Group 1 success with the likes of Sam Maximus, who was third on reappearance in the Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

"He was only just up to a race when we ran him, he kind of needed a race to bring him forwards," he explained.

"I thought he ran really well and he just got tired in the last half-furlong, he had a real good blow and I think he should step forward from that.

"He's in the Commonwealth Cup and the two that finished in front of him at Newbury will probably run in it. They were match-fit and we went there half expecting to blow up, so I'd like to think he could get closer to them with another effort and the plan is to run him at Ascot and go from there.

"The programme for three-year-old sprinters kind of maps itself out. We'll then see if he can mix it with the best sprinters or maybe have to go back and find a little Listed race somewhere"

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