The Group 2 Coventry Stakes that takes place on the opening day of Royal Ascot, a week on Tuesday, could have a last-minute contender in the shape of John Gosden’s impressive Newmarket winner Calyx.
In the first race of the campaign on the July course at HQ on Saturday the Prince Khaled Abdullah-owned son of Kingman created quite an impression. He had been steadily supported in the pe-race betting and sent off 5/2 favourite, despite the presence of Mark Johnston’s Lingfield winner Octave (9/2), and the well touted 750,000 guineas Dark Angel colt Khaadem, representing Charles Hills’ and Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum.
An impressive performance from Calyx, a son of Kingman, who makes a winning racecourse debut in the 6f Novice Stakes @NewmarketRace.
— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) June 9, 2018
Calyx took a strong hold under Robert Havlin through the early stages of the six furlong AFT Fluorotec EBF Novice Stakes but he moved up in style to join Octave a furlong out before powering away, despite running green to score by five lengths, with Khaadem a further six lengths away back in third. The win drew differing reactions from the betting fraternity, bet365 seemingly running for cover and making Calyx their 4/1 third-favourite for the Coventry Stakes behind Sergei Prokofiev and Legends of War, while Sky Bet were more relaxed and offer 10/1 about the Newmarket winner.
“We’ll have to see how Calyx is before we think about Royal Ascot or anything,” Gosden told reporters, mindful of the minimal 10-day gap between his colt’s debut and the Coventry Stakes. “He’s a nice type of horse who will get seven furlongs and a mile like his father.”
Not only was Calyx’s victory noteworthy due to the manner of his success, but it also provided his sire, the high-class Kingman, with a first winner with only his third runner to date. Kingman also made a winning debut on Newmarket’s July course, back in 2013, before failing narrowly to beat Night of Thunder in the following year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas. He gained his revenge in landing the Irish 1000 Guineas three weeks later, before carrying all before him that summer in the St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, and finally the Prix Jacques le Marois.
For those who like to take a long-term view, Calyx is now 25/1 with Betfred to land the 2019 Qipco 2000 Guineas and go one better than his father.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.