Deauville Legend could take on defending champion Pyledriver in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, with trainer James Ferguson confident he will take “a huge step forward”.
Fourth in the Melbourne Cup on his previous run at Flemington, the lightly-raced four-year-old produced a fine run on his return from a 235-day break when beaten just under three lengths by Pyledriver in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
A head runner-up in last year’s King George V Stakes, Deauville Legend went on to take two Group races and his Newmarket handler is happy to meet Pyledriver again in the all-aged Group One contest at the Berkshire track on July 29.
“That was huge after an extremely long lay-off,” said Ferguson.
“We knew it would be a tough ask and he just went for his girths half a furlong from home, and he will probably take a huge step forward from that.
“Deauville Legend will probably go to the King George. He’s had two solid runs at Ascot now and it is a track he obviously likes.”
Zoology almost made it a meeting to remember for the young trainer, the three-year-old stepping up on his fourth-placed effort in the Greenham to run Age Of Kings to a length in the Group Three Jersey Stakes on vastly different ground.
He stayed on nicely inside the final furlong to claim the runner-up spot under Oisin Murphy, and Ferguson feels he may be ready to go up in trip.
He said: “I’ve always been confident in the horse and I’m very grateful to have a Zoustar of his calibre.
“He has just done better with age and he’s developed mentally as well as physically. He looks a different horse to the one we had six months ago – he’s changed that quickly.
“I thought he ran really well and potentially he could step up to a mile.
“The Greenham at Newbury was on terrible ground. He is genuine. That’s Zoustars for you – they are genuine and very honest. But I can’t tell you where he will go next.”
Likewise, Canberra Legend, who was beaten three lengths by Waipiro in the Hampton Court, could also be upped in trip next time.
A son of Australia, he had previously disappointed in York’s Dante Stakes, finishing ninth of 11 to The Foxes.
Ferguson was happy to see him bounce back to something like his best at Ascot and has pencilled in the Group Three Gordon Stakes at Goodwood on August 3 for his next outing.
“Just put a line through the Dante,” he insisted. “We saw the real Canberra Legend this time and he will probably step up to a mile and a half. He will probably go to the Gordon.”