William Haggas expects My Prospero to take advantage of what he considers a “good opportunity” in Saturday’s Sky Bet York Stakes.
A Group Two winner in France last summer, the Iffraaj colt has since been campaigned exclusively at the highest level and has run three fine races in defeat.
He was beaten just half a length into third place in the Champion Stakes in October and so far this term has finished fourth in the Lockinge at Newbury and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
It is a measure of the regard in which My Prospero is held at Somerville Lodge that Haggas was underwhelmed by his most recent performance at Ascot and hopes he can make the most of having his sights lowered back in Group Two company on the Knavesmire.
“It’s a good opportunity for him. We think he’s in really good form so hopefully he’ll run a good race, I’m sure he’ll run well,” said the Newmarket handler.
“It’s one of those (trappy) races, but he’s very well and he should go well.
“I was a bit disappointed with his run at Ascot, he’s definitely better than that I think, but Saturday will tell us because he needs to be shaping up well here.”
My Prospero is a hot favourite to dispatch of four talented rivals in the hands of Tom Marquand.
Connections are looking forward to the belated return of the Owen Burrows-trained Alflaila, who won his final three starts of last season but has been sidelined since suffering an injury in Bahrain.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell, said: “It’s his first start since October, but he was a progressive horse last year.
“The funny thing with him is he’s by Dark Angel and out of an Oasis Dream mare and yet he stays a mile well and even a mile and a furlong.
“We’re going up again in trip to a mile and a quarter, but I don’t see that being a problem, it’s more a question of how rusty he is. He had quite an injury obviously, but he’s been sound and everything since he’s been back in training and we didn’t rush him and targeted this race.
“As long as he’s not too rusty, hopefully he’ll run a good race. It’s a trappy little contest and he’ll need to be at his best, but it will just be nice to get him back on the track.”
Royal Champion steps back up in grade after winning the Listed Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“It’s a small field but it looks a good race,” said his trainer Roger Varian.
“He’s coming into it off the back of a win in a strong renewal of the Wolferton and he won it well, so he deserves his place in a race like this.”
The small but select field is completed by Mashhoor, who has won his last three races in Ireland for Johnny Murtagh, and William Knight’s outsider Checkandchallenge.
The latter was just over five lengths behind Royal Champion when seventh in the Wolferton and Knight hopes the application of headgear will enable him to raise his game.
“I just felt in his last couple of races he was getting a bit behind the bridle, so we’re putting the visors on to help him concentrate. He worked in them last Saturday and they seemed to do the trick,” he said.
“He’s well capable of competing at this level. At Ascot we were drawn wide and just got too far back and I think the flat track at York and the smaller field will suit him much better.
“The bit of ease in the ground will definitely help and he’ll go there and run very well, I’m pretty confident of that.”