Vadeni won the Eclipse under Christophe Soumillon
Vadeni won the Eclipse under Christophe Soumillon

Soumillon to ride Big Rock and Blue Rose Cen at Royal Ascot

Christophe Soumillon will ride both Big Rock and Blue Rose Cen at Royal Ascot next week.

Trainer Maurizio Guarnieri confirmed Soumillon would take over from the regular rider of the pair, Aurelien Lemaitre, due to his greater experience of Ascot and his excellent record in big races around the world.

Big Rock, a startling winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day when trained by Christopher Head, disappointed on his seasonal reappearance in the Lockinge at Newbury when he had valid excuses and heads for the Queen Anne.

Blue Rose Cen, three times a winner in Group One company last season for Head, made a pleasing reappearance when beaten a little over two lengths in the Prix d’Ispahan by Mqse De Sevigne and will run in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Soumillon’s last Group One win in the UK came in the Coral-Eclipse on Vadeni in 2022.

Guarnieri told the PA news agency: “Soumillon is going to ride them both, we’ve decided. Christophe is world class. I and the owners decided to change. I think he is a champion, it is just that.

“He knows all the tracks, he knows Ascot very well and he has won Group One races everywhere so I think he is the best choice.”

As for Big Rock’s chances, they could be boosted by some forecast rain.

“I hope the rain comes, that should help him,” said Guarnieri.

“He had a problem coming out of the stalls in the Lockinge, he went down on his knee, after that it was very difficult. The ground was also not in his favour at Newbury but the main problem was the start, when you put your nose on the ground the race is compromised.

“We know he likes Ascot but the ground was very heavy that day.”

Blue Rose Cen pleased connections with her comeback against the boys and will run in traditionally one of the hottest races of the week.

“I was happy with her performance in the d’Ispahan. After so long off it is not so easy to come back in a Group One race against the older colts who had already run,” said Guarnieri.

“She finished off her race, the distance was maybe a little short so with an extra furlong I am confident she will run well.”

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