Canberra Legend and Deauville Legend look set to lead trainer James Ferguson’s small but select team into battle at Royal Ascot next week.
The Newmarket handler had Classic aspirations for Canberra Legend following his victory in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket in April, but a disappointing run in last month’s Dante at York led to connections deciding against a tilt at Derby glory.
The Australia colt has instead been kept fresh for the Royal meeting, with the King Edward VII Stakes viewed as his most likely target.
“Canberra Legend showed his class in the Feilden and showed that the further he was going, the better he was going,” Ferguson told Sky Sports Racing.
“We’ve put a line through the Dante at York. He showed his inexperience, it was a big occasion, hopefully he’s grown up and learned from it.
“From the minute he went down to the start, I think we knew it was not going to be his day and we move on. We’ve taken him for an away-day at Chelmsford and he’s shown me all the right signs at home that we’ve got him back to where we were with the Feilden.
“He’ll be entered in the King Edward and the Hampton Court. We’re probably lining him up for the mile-and-a-half option to be honest and I’d say he’s going there with a real live chance.”
Deauville Legend was narrowly denied in the King George V Stakes at last year’s big meeting, after which he went on to win the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket and the Great Voltigeur at York before rounding off his campaign by finishing fourth in the Melbourne Cup.
The son of Sea The Stars is set to make his four-year-old debut in what looks a strong renewal of the Hardwicke Stakes, but Ferguson is pleased with his condition.
He added: “He’s in great order and we’re really looking forward to getting him back out.
“We’ve been very patient with him. We decided to give him a bit of a break after his international travel for the Melbourne Cup, where he ran very well on ground which went very soft and he probably didn’t stay the two miles with the weight he was given.
“He lost nothing in defeat and the way he won the Voltigeur shows that from the older horse category over a mile and a half, he’s one of the best around.
“He’ll be going to the Hardwicke, which is a hard place to start your campaign if Hukum and Pyledriver go there, but I certainly think he’s capable of competing at that grade.
“I’m fairly confident we’ve got him fit enough to go the races, but whatever we see from him, he will come on for the run I’m sure.”
The trainer’s Ascot squad also includes impressive Doncaster handicap winner Wonder Legend, who will bid to go one better than Deauville Legend in the King George V Stakes.
“He showed his true class over further (at Doncaster), so we’re going in off 94 and stepping up to a mile and a half,” said Ferguson.
“You’ve got to have a Group horse to win these handicaps and I feel we’re going in with one. I’d like to think he’s better than his mark and can go on to bigger and better things after this race.”
Land Legend also has the King George option, but is more likely to step up in distance and class for the Queen’s Vase, while Ferguson considers his Greenham Stakes fourth Zoology as a serious contender for the Jersey Stakes.
He added: “I think Land Legend is crying out for a mile and six furlongs. The Queen’s Vase is going to be a very competitive race and he’s probably on a low enough mark where he could be competitive in a handicap, but I do think the extra two furlongs will bring out a lot more in him.
“Zoology ran very well in the Greenham and he’s a super horse. I really like him, he’s genuine and he’s honest and I really don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of him.
“He ran well in the Greenham on ground that was fairly unsuitable for him. I’d like to think on a flat track and a good surface we’ll see a massive improvement from him.
“I’d be very hopeful he can go and run a big race.”