Nigel Tinkler reports that it is the Group Two King George Qatar Stakes during the Glorious Goodwood Festival next for Acklam Express following the four-year-old’s podium finish at Royal Ascot.

The Mehmas gelding was sent off at 200/1 for the King’s Stand Stakes won by Australian raider Nature Strip on the opening day of the Royal meeting, but made a mockery of those odds to come home in third, only a head behind runner-up Twilight Calls, who was the best of the British challenge on the day.

Tinkler is now targeting a return to the Sussex Downs and a track Acklam Express excelled at as a two-year-old for his next appearance, having decided against a run in this weekend’s City Walls Stakes at York.

“He’s absolutely fine, he had a little break after Ascot and is now back cantering away,” said the Malton-based trainer.

“He’ll now go straight to Goodwood for the King George. We did think about running him at York, but we’re now going to head straight to Goodwood. He holds the track record for two-year-olds there so we think that should be the place we should go.

“He was a massive price the other day, but he ran really well and we’re looking forward to having another throw at the dartboard. I don’t think it was a fluke because he has placed in Group races in Dubai before.”

Acklam Express (centre, light green) comes home third in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot

Image: Acklam Express (centre, light green) comes home third in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot

In the immediate aftermath, the trainer spoke of his desire to make the trip to the Breeders’ Cup with the horse. Tinkler has revealed connections have received an invitation to run at Keeneland in November, but may take in the Nunthorpe Stakes on the Knavesmire in August before a final decision is made on any international adventures.

He continued: “He has been invited (to the Breeders’ Cup), but we’ll see how he goes at Goodwood and he might run in the Nunthorpe and then a decision will probably be made after that.”

Although Acklam Express is set to sit out York’s John Smith’s Cup meeting on July 9, one Woodland Stables inmate who could make an appearance is Isla Kai.

The consistent handicapper was last seen finishing a respectable sixth in the Royal Hunt Cup and Tinkler is confident the four-year-old can add to his four career victories if encountering ideal conditions.

“He doesn’t actually need soft ground, he just doesn’t want firm ground. He will be entered for York next Saturday, but won’t run if the ground is quick,” said Tinkler.