St James's Palace winner Circus Maximus has the world as its oyster after landing the day one feature contest at Royal Ascot with the Coral-Eclipse and Qatar Sussex Stakes high on the agenda for the three year old
The Aidan O'Brien trained colt as a two year old was not a bad horse winning one of his four races as a juvenile but no one would have expected the step forward he has made this season, a year older.
He started his three year old campaign off at Chester at the May Boodles festival and landed the Listed Dee Stakes seeing off five other runners including the smart Fox Chairman.
Circus Maximus is a horse that thrives in soft conditions and on that day at Chester although the description said it was good to soft it was wetter than they expressed in our opinion.
That was used as a prep run for the Derby where the ground was quicker and although going over his furthest trip he ran to a good standard finishing a respectful sixth.
The shock decision off the back of that Group 1 run was to drop him back down in trip to a mile and enter the three year old in the feature on day one at Royal Ascot in the St James's Palace Stakes where not a lot of punters thinking he would come out as the eventual winner.
He saw off assaults by the two John Gosden runners in Too Darn Hot and King Of Comedy to snatch the Group 1 and now his trainer and connections are looking where to send him next.
Having shown how good he is over 1 mile 2f, 1 mile and even further with a solid run in the Epsom Derby there are plenty of options for the Group 1 winner with Sandown or Glorious Goodwood currently leading the way.
(Credit At The Races) Racing Manager for the Niarchos Family, Alan Cooper said: “When Aidan first mentioned the race I thought, ‘why not’, in the sense that Duntle, his dam, was a very good miler and Galileo (sire) gets champions over every distance.
“I thought it was an interesting and very fair idea. He’s now building up a good record, he’s from a wonderful family and it was a super result.
“I’ve spoken to Aidan, but it’s a little too soon to be definitive about plans – he’d like a few more days before nominating a race, but you’d think the Eclipse and the Sussex Stakes are possible targets.
“It’s just not possible yet to make statements. He ran a strong race last race, so we’ll give him as long as possible before deciding where he goes next.”
He added: “Duntle was a dual winner at the Royal meeting and it would be ideal in the future if there are sons and daughters of Circus Maximus running there.”