Eydon is out to prove the fire still burns brightly when he returns from a long absence in the Chasemore Farm Fortune Stakes at Sandown.
The one-time Derby hope created a real impression when winning the Feilden Stakes in the spring of 2022, but has not been seen on a racecourse since finishing fourth in last year’s 2000 Guineas, with a series of injury setbacks keeping him on the sidelines.
Switched from Roger Varian to Andrew Balding prior to the 2023 season, another issue arose in the spring to extend his layoff, but the son of Olden Times is finally ready to make his eagerly-awaited reappearance after 508 days out of action.
Connections had been weighing up a run at Sandown with a trip to Ayr for the four-year-old’s comeback outing, but it is the Esher track that will be graced with the presence of Prince Faisal’s colt on Wednesday afternoon.
“I think Andrew felt that, on reflection, going up to Ayr after such a long lay-off, it was easier to go just down the road to Sandown,” said Ted Voute, racing adviser to Eydon’s owner.
“Andrew seems quite optimistic, Oisin (Murphy, jockey) has ridden him at home and in his work he seems to have stayed in one piece this time.
“I think everyone feels he might be a little bit ring rusty and he is running over a mile rather than a little bit further, but it is a great place to start and it will give us a good indication of whether he progresses to something major this year or stays in training and we tackle it next year.”
Eydon holds an entry for the Qipco Champion Stakes on October 21 with the Ascot contest seen as the perfect spot for the colt to return to Group One competition if passing his Fortune Stakes test.
However, connections are well aware it would take a mammoth effort following such a long layoff and they will simply be satisfied with a run full of encouragement at Sandown.
“Ascot would be the dream, but in reality it is one step at a time and let’s see what happens in the aftermath of this race,” continued Voute.
“We are hopeful, but we are all well aware it is a big ask following the amount of time he has had off.
“While we have that target (Ascot) sitting there, it is not the be-all and end-all, and as long as he came back in one piece and showed he had that brilliance of the Feilden and fourth in the Guineas, then he can build on that in the forthcoming year.
“It’s a credit to Prince Faisal who has kept faith and it means quite a bit to him that he is by Olden Times, who he also raced. It’s a lot of his own breeding on both the female side and the sire which is rare nowadays and I think it is a credit to him as an owner to keep persevering.”
Also on the comeback trail is William Knight’s Sir Busker, who has been off the track since finishing down the field in the Dubai Turf in March.
The evergreen seven-year-old suffered an eye infection while in Dubai and his owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds are delighted to see him return in a race which could determine future aspirations.
“We are thrilled to see him back, that will be great and we’re really looking forward to it,” said Sam Hoskins, racing manager for the owners.
“He got an eye infection in Dubai, but he is ready to resume which is brilliant.
“I think Sandown should suit him well, but he’ll improve for the run whatever he does. It’s not all about winning on Wednesday, we just hope he runs a nice race and shapes well for the future.
“If all goes well then he will be kept on the go. There’s races for him at Newmarket and we could consider the all-weather or the Middle East as well, depending on how he gets on.
“We don’t have any grand future entries, but there are plenty of options and it will just be great to see him back and he owes his syndicate members nothing.”
Richard Hannon’s Chindit makes a swift return to action having claimed a Group Three at Haydock recently, while Simon and Ed Crisford’s Celebration Mile runner-up Knight will sport first-time cheekpieces when he lines up at the Esher track.
Roger Varian claimed the Listed event with subsequent Queen Elizabeth II Stakes scorer Bayside Boy 12 months ago and it is somewhat interesting he saddles the half-brother Lord Of Biscay in a bid to do the double.
A total of 10 will go to post including Dylan Cunha’s improving Silver Sword who will compete in Pattern company for the first time.