Royal Rhyme could earn himself a tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes with victory in the Virgin Bet Daily Extra Places Doonside Cup at Ayr on Saturday.
The three-year-old made a huge impression when powering clear of his rivals in handicap company in the mud at Goodwood last month and trainer Karl Burke has no doubt his exciting colt can make his presence felt at a higher level granted suitable conditions.
The Spigot Lodge handler views this weekend’s 10-furlong Listed contest as an ideal next step for his charge, with bigger targets on the horizon.
“He’s a good horse and he goes there in good shape,” said Burke.
“I think it will be just slow ground and any more rain will be to his advantage, I think – the softer the better, to be honest.
“He is a fair horse and that (Champion Stakes) is the idea, thinking it might be very soft ground at Ascot, but we’d want to be running very well on Saturday first, obviously.”
Irish hopes are carried by Noel Meade’s Helvic Dream.
He has not managed to get his head in front since securing Group One glory in the 2021 Tattersalls Gold Cup, but did run his best race for a while when third behind stablemate Lafayette in the Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh last month.
Meade said: “Our horse is in great shape and the more rain that comes, the better for him.
“That (Tattersalls Gold Cup win) was a while ago and he’s found it hard to recover that, but I’m very happy with him now and he’s in good form.”
Pride Of America provided his trainer Amy Murphy with big-race success in the John Smith’s Cup at York in July, since when he has finished third in another valuable handicap at Goodwood.
Murphy acknowledges the six-year-old has more on his plate in Scotland but is happy to roll the dice.
“His hike after winning the John Smith’s Cup means we’re kind of forced into this company,” said the Newmarket handler.
“As always, he will wear his heart on his sleeve and he’ll be trying his hardest.”
William Haggas’ My Prospero, the forecast favourite, was declared a non-runner on Friday morning.
Burke’s experienced course winner Dorothy Lawrence sets the standard in the Group Three Virgin Bet Best Odds Daily Firth Of Clyde.
Placed twice in Listed company earlier in the year, the Soldier’s Call filly has since opened her account at Ayr before finishing fourth in the Lowther at York and a close second, beaten just a short head by Juniper Berries, in the Dick Poole at Salisbury.
Burke said: “She is one who wouldn’t want too much more rain, but she’s in good form. I don’t think it’s the strongest Group Three in the world and we’re giving it a go.”
The likely favourite is Raqiya, who has impressed in her last two races for Owen Burrows, while Great Generation is unbeaten in two starts for Marco Botti, who said: “She’s done nothing wrong and progressed a lot from her first start to win at Chester three weeks ago.
“She’s a very honest filly who tries hard. Obviously, this is a step up in class, but we don’t want to run her on fast ground and it looks like we’ll get good ground at Ayr.
“She’s in great form, six furlongs seems to be her trip and we hope she’ll improve again from Chester and will be there or thereabouts.”