Clive Cox makes no apology for thinking Jasour is at the top of the pecking order of his juveniles at Beechdown Stables in Lambourn as he bids for a hat-trick in the Markel Richmond Stakes at Goodwood on Thursday.
The Havana Grey colt has progressed in each of his three runs this term and followed up his Nottingham five-furlong maiden win with an authoritative two-length verdict over Lake Forest when upped to six furlongs in the July Stakes at Newmarket.
He tackles nine rivals in similar Group Two company on the Sussex Downs, with his trainer expecting him to back up that good performance.
Cox, who won this race in 2019 with Golden Horde and again the following year with Supremacy, said: “We were thrilled with the Newmarket success. He has come out of the race really well, we’re very happy with the way he’s been since then.
“It was nice to see him settle behind the pace and finish off in a race of that level, and to win as nicely as he did.
“We rate him highly. We had him entered in the Gimcrack before he ran at Newmarket and was our only entry in the race, so that tells you.
“It was not as if it was unexpected, but it is always nice to confirm what you hope and believe. We are hopeful that he’ll go well.”
First-time winners Vandeek, who landed a six-furlong maiden in easy ground at Nottingham for co-trainers Ed and Simon Crisford, and Sketch, who was an eyecatching Newbury scorer for Freddie and Martyn Meade, look worthy opponents.
Confidence is high that Showcasing colt Sketch, who scored by five lengths on debut 12 days ago, can back up that form.
Freddie Meade said: “He seems to have come out of it really well. Obviously it is quite a quick turnaround, but he was a true professional at Newbury. In the winner’s enclosure he seemed to take it all in his stride.
“It looks a tough renewal, but I think he showed he’s entitled to be there and he is a big, strong horse and it is not all about this season.
“He is a really nice horse who we think a lot of and we are hoping to go there with a live chance. Not many can do what he did first time out and the sectional times were good if you compare them to the Hackwood.”
Ed Crisford feels Vandeek will gain some useful experience, suggesting it is not all about his juvenile season.
He said: “He looked a bit inexperienced at Nottingham and just fell out the stalls, but with the ground the way it is – it was soft when he won there – it will help. He seems to have come on for that mentally for the last few weeks, so we thought we’d take a chance.
“If he can take a step forward from his maiden win, we’ll be pleased. He is one for the future and it is not all about this.”
The Group Three John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes over a mile and a half sees the King’s Royal Ascot winner Desert Hero having his first outing since landing the King George V Stakes.
However, the top two in the market are the Aidan O’Brien-trained Espionage and the Crisfords’ Chesspiece.
The former won a Listed race at Rosscommon on his seasonal bow, having shown some smart form in three runs last autumn, including when beaten a head by Donnacha O’Brien’s Proud And Regal in the Criterium at Saint-Cloud.
O’Brien said of the Galileo colt, who is towards the head of the betting on the St Leger: “He’s only had the one run this year and nearly won a Group One in France last year.
“He’s progressing, he’s coming on. That was his first run at Roscommon this season and we think he’ll progress as the year goes on.”
Chesspiece was placed in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot before dropping back in trip to land a Listed prize at Hamilton over a mile and three furlongs.
Ed Crisford feels he will appreciate the easy ground in what looks a high-quality renewal.
“He won nicely in a Listed race at Hamilton and he’s come out of it very well,” he said.
“We know he likes softer conditions and with all the rain, we thought it was a good option to run him.
“He is doing extremely well and I’m sure he will be very competitive. It looks a strong race for the class and if he can take another step forward, he’ll be right in the mix.”