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Doyle gears up for Royal Ascot with Group race double on Al Hilalee and Vintager

Charlie Appleby and James Doyle will head to the most important week of the summer with the wind in their sails after picking up a fine double on the Prix de Diane undercard at Chantilly on Sunday.

Al Hilalee found things happening a bit quick for him in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas but, having run much better when stepped up in trip last time, may have found his ideal distance in landing the Group 2 Prix Hocquart over 1m4f.

"It's a big crowd and very warm so he was looking around a bit but when I put him under maximum pressure he hit the line well," Doyle said after his mount had held the late challenges of Soft Light and Khagan by a neck and the same. 

"He stays this trip very well and it's improved him. He is learning all the time and he clearly loves being out in front and doing his own thing."

Vintager claimed a hard-fought success in the Prix Bertrand du Breuil at the expense of Trais Fluors, scoring a first win since joining Godolphin from David Menuisier. 

"The drop back in trip was the key along with the fast pace, said Doyle.

"The second horse sets a good level of form and is no slouch. We have to be pretty pleased and there is no reason why he can’t keep building on that.

"It took us a little time to work him out when he joined us and he’s not entirely straightforward. But he seems to be getting his act together."

Earlier John Gosden got in on the act when Azano landed the Prix Paul de Moussac under a well-judged ride from Rab Havlin, giving a huge boost to his Newmarket conqueror Jash who runs in the Jersey Stakes on Saturday.

Gosden's son Thady gave credit to owner Martin Taylor for picking out the race and connections will seriously consider the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at the start of July. 

"We bred him and we still have the mare at home as well as a Sea The Stars brother," said Taylor.

"We could have gone to the Jersey but, when I looked at it, possibly that was a tougher race. It was a little bit of a worry whether he would stay but round the bend helped him and he certainly wasn’t stopping at the end.

"We'll obviously have to speak with the trainer but the Jean Prat is an obvious target. It's a straight seven at Deauville and he likes a bit of cut in the ground so we feel it’s the perfect race for him."

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