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Ocean War can make a splash in Steventon Stakes

Godolphin are doubly represented in the six-runner Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. Silvestre De Sousa partners Royal Empire with Paul Hanagan partnering Ocean War.

Royal Empire comes out top on official ratings here but there are question marks about him after trailing home in last place at Meydan in March. He had previously won a valuable handicap and been runner-up twice before failing as an odds-on favourite behind Quick Wit.

Ocean War is still lightly raced having been absent for just over a year before his run at Royal Ascot. That came in the Wolferton Handicap where he ran far better than his final eighth placing suggests.

He made excellent progress from the rear under Mickael Barzalona but was hampered in the closing stages and his jockey did not punish him once his chance had gone. He finished less than four lengths behind the winner and can be expected to come on considerably for the run.

As a three-year-old he earned himself a trip to the Epsom Derby when winning at Newmarket over ten furlongs. Clearly something was amiss that day as Frankie Dettori eased him down to a walk in the closing stages to finish 11th of the 13 runners.

Two of Ocean War’s rivals also ran in the Ascot race with Mobaco back in eleventh and Dicky Doughtywylie beating only one home in fourteenth. Both are capable of a lot better than that and the latter was a respectable sixth to Mandour at Sandown last time out.

John Gosden does not keep older horses in training for the good of their health and it would be no surprise to see forcing tactics employed by William Buick here. Clive Cox is still on cloud nine after Lethal Force’s victory in the July Cup and he has a chance with Black Spirit.

The six-year-old is second on official ratings having won similar events at Doncaster and Newbury last season. That followed two excellent runs in handicaps at Epsom and Royal Ascot and he could pose a threat if he improves for his recent Sandown run.

The field is completed by Lady Cecil’s Al Waab, the only three-year-old in the field. The son of Danehill Dancer won his first two starts last season before being beaten narrowly at Haydock.

His third place in the Royal Lodge gives him a chance here but he has shown little in his first two races at three.