Master Of The Seas will make his first UK appearance of the season in the Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old was runner-up in the 2000 Guineas during his Classic season and has always been a top operator at distances around a mile, but has not been seen on home soil since winning the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket in April 2022.
Since then he has competed with credit oversees in Meydan and Appleby, who also saddles New Kingdom, feels this Group Two contest is the perfect spot to get his season up and running.
He said: “He was a bit unlucky on his penultimate start in the Jebel Hatta. It was a little bit messy.
“Unfortunately on World Cup night, he had a wide drawn, which just doesn’t suit him. He is a horse that needs that cover – as we know, he’s a free-going sort.
“We purposely gave him the spring off, because we didn’t think there was anything for him. We felt the Queen Anne was a tough call as we had Modern Games in there in the end.
“We bypassed that and we thought this was a nice spot to start off his campaign. He goes there in good order and we’re very pleased with him.”
If all goes to the script on Saturday, the Moulton Paddocks handler indicated further international travels could be on the cards later in the season rather than a return to the Berkshire track for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day.
Appleby added: “The ground would be a big negative there. We might go further afield and take him to America.
“We might look at something like the Fourstardave at Saratoga. Those turning tracks suit him if you can get the right draw. There are plenty of options, and I just think those tracks suit him more.
“We just need to get him out and get him going again. You wouldn’t want to go Stateside with him being too fresh because it would be too much of a challenge. He is a challenge in himself every day!
“If he brings his A-game, he is a big player.”
Also returning from an absence is John and Thady Gosden’s Mighty Ulysses, who was beaten less than a length at t
he track in the St James’s Palace Stakes last year before winning the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes during Newmarket’s July Festival.
He was last seen competing over nine furlongs at York, but is now back in trip, something connections feel is key.
“He’s back in trip and I don’t think he gets an inch over a mile, so this is his trip and we’re very hopeful,” said Philip Robinson, assistant racing manager for the owners.
“He’s rated 112 and has a lot of ability. Rab Havlin knows him well from home and hopefully he has a great chance.”
William Haggas’ Aldaary had spent 420 days off the track before returning to finish fourth behind Audience in the Criterion Stakes earlier this month and although the Shadwell-owned five-year-old will strip fitter for that outing, his handler states rain is required for him to take his chance.
Haggas said: “He needs it soft. It’s going to rain there I think, we just hope it rains enough for him to run.
“He’s a useful horse. He will be better for his comeback run in the Criterion.”
Ralph Beckett’s Angel Bleu is another who will enjoy a drop of rain, while the Kimpton Down handler is also represented by Jimi Hendrix, who hit the right note in the Royal Hunt Cup and now gets his chance in Group company at a track he enjoys.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Regal Reality was a winner of the Diomed Stakes at Epsom last month, while Kenny McPeek’s US raider Classic Causeway and William Stone’s Dashing Roger complete the line-up.