While Classic runners may be
thin on the ground for trainer Charlie Appleby, his team for Royal Ascot took
further shape after Blue Point made
a winning return in the Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at the Berkshire
Having signed off last season with placed efforts in the Middle Park and Dewhurst, the son of Shamardal showed that he has trained on when he put his rivals to the sword in the six-furlong contest in a course record time.
Tracking the early pace set by Yalta down the centre of the track, the 13-8 favourite, who claimed the first Pattern win of his career in last year's Gimcrack, moved with great fluency to stride into the lead inside the final two furlongs before posting victory by a length and a half over Mill Reef winner Harry Angel.
Following the race, Blue Point was cut from 6-1 to 4-1 for the Commonwealth Cup by Coral, with Betway trimming him from 7-1 to 5-1 for the same race.
Appleby said: "I'm not going to start changing my opinion of him - he's the quickest horse in the yard and always has been. The horse has wintered well in Dubai. A couple of people have said he's not the biggest, but for me he's got a great chest on him and plenty of strength. A lot of credit needs to go to (former jockey) Willie Ryan, who taught the horse how to settle. A lot of horses travelled freely enough today, but this horse has learned how to settle and go through the gears. William (Buick) was delighted with him and we'll go straight for the Commonwealth Cup. We spoke about the Sandy Lane (Haydock, May 27), but there's no need to go there as he's done his job, so we'll head straight to Royal Ascot. I think he deserves to be there and I think he's a very live contender."
Although a Guineas campaign was quickly ruled out for Blue Point at the back-end of last term, a step up to seven furlongs later in the season has not been dismissed by the Newmarket handler.
Appleby added: "He hits the line strong so we will keep him doing what he is good
at for the moment. I would not worry if in time we had to step him up to seven
furlongs. It could not have gone any better today. I give a lot of credit to
the second horse as well, who run well with a penalty."