Nostrum again bids to emulate the brilliant Baaeed in the Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood.
Sir Michael Stoute’s charge was considered a Classic contender at the start of the year after finishing third in last season’s Dewhurst, but a spring setback ruled him out of the 2000 Guineas, the Irish Guineas and Royal Ascot.
However, the Kingman colt blew his rivals away on his belated reappearance in the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes at Newmarket, a Listed contest won two years ago by Baaeed before he successfully stepped up to Group Three level in the Thoroughbred Stakes.
Like the William Haggas-trained superstar, who retired last term having won 10 of his 11 starts including six Group Ones, Nostrum had the option of stepping up to the highest level in Wednesday’s Sussex Stakes as a three-year-old – but his connections have also elected to take a smaller step.
“We’re all looking forward to it, he’s in good shape and Sir Michael is happy with him,” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager to owners Juddmonte.
“Of course we gave it (Sussex Stakes) consideration, but Michael rightly pointed out and the owners agreed, why go from second gear to fifth? Let’s go through the gears, we’re looking at longevity and we don’t want to kill the horse off with one run.
“We’ll bring him along gradually and there’s plenty of Group Ones later in the season.
“We’re all thinking about stallions and commerciality, but it didn’t do him (Baaeed) any harm. He got to where he needed to get and if we can get there, we’ll be happy.”
Nostrum will be a warm order in the hands of Ryan Moore, but Mahon is taking nothing for granted.
He added: “It’s a good, solid Group Three, hopefully it’s another stepping-stone and it will be nice to see him back on the track.
“Ground-wise I don’t think we’re too concerned – a bit of cut in the ground will be fine for him.”
Chief among Nostrum’s rivals is Docklands, who completed his hat-trick in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot and is now given his Pattern-race debut by trainer Harry Eustace.
The three-year-old carries the colours of Australian-based syndicate OTI Racing and will be making a trip to the southern hemisphere before the year is out.
“He won the biggest handicap for the owners this year and this will teach us a lot about him from their point of view and his targets down in Australia, whenever they may be,” said the Newmarket handler.
“He won on soft ground at Ascot in May and good to firm at the Royal meeting. It’s a big positive that, I don’t have to worry about it frankly.”
John and Thady Gosden bring the high-class Epictetus back in trip, while Jessica Harrington sends Bold Discovery across the Irish Sea following a recent Listed triumph at the Curragh.
Simon and Ed Crisford saddle an interesting contender in Knight, who has been gelded since being withdrawn by the starter prior to the French 2000 Guineas.
He had previously disappointed when well fancied for the Greenham Stakes at Newbury in April off the back of an unbeaten juvenile campaign.
Ed Crisford said: “He is gelded now after France. He has had some time off and has been doing really well since then.
“We have done a lot of stalls work with him and we hope that on Friday he can take everything in his stride and run a decent race.
“It is a bit of a comeback mission. We need to see him run before making a proper judgement on what we do next with him. It is going to be a case of seeing how he reacts.
“We have done a lot of work with him at home. Hopefully that will pay off and hopefully he can run a decent race. There are plenty of targets throughout the summer and into the autumn.”
Galeron (Charlie Hills) and Montesilvano (Joseph O’Brien) complete the field.
The other Group Three on Friday’s card is the L’Ormarins King’s Plate Glorious Stakes, in which Haggas saddles both the hot favourite Hamish and Candleford.
Having sidestepped a red-hot renewal of the King George at Ascot on Saturday on account of unsuitable ground, Hamish bids for a sixth win at Group Three level, while stablemate Candleford finished third in Goodwood’s Tapster Stakes on his only previous outing this year.
The Gosden-trained Mimikyu is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time after placed efforts at York and Haydock, while Norwegian raider Hard One To Please adds international interest.