Anthony Honeyball is looking forward to mixing it on the big Flat stage when he saddles Jukebox Jive in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers Handicap at Ascot on Saturday.
The Dorset handler, much better known as a jumps trainer, is pleased he took the four-year-old out of a race at Glorious Goodwood last week to wait for this two-mile test.
And he was delighted Adam Kirby, representing Great Britain and Ireland, has been allocated the mount, as the annual team competition once again takes centre stage.
“We’re very happy with the horse. He’s in good nick. He ran well in the Chester Cup and he ran well in the Listed race at Sandown,” said Honeyball.
“He’s high enough (in the weights). I suppose it’s a stiff task to win any handicap off 100, but he’s in good order and I’m happy with the jockey booking. Obviously Adam knows Ascot well.”
He added: “I think he’s got a good chance. We were keen to go to Ascot because it’s a much more compressed handicap than the one he was in at Goodwood.
“Because only 10 can run in this we knew he would not be giving away masses of weight. This is a better fit for him and he stays two miles really well.
“He’s a straightforward horse for a race like this for a jockey who doesn’t know him.
“We’re very hopeful and it’s a nice pot as well.”
Joe Tuite rerouted Machine Learner to the Shergar Cup Challenge Handicap because he missed the cut at Goodwood.
“The horse is in good form and we go there very hopeful. He won very well there last time,” he said.
“I wanted to take him to Goodwood, but he didn’t get in, and this was the next opportunity.
“It’s great prize-money, he loves fast ground and is in superb form.”
Tuite is happy Kirby’s teammate Fran Berry has been given the ride.
“Fran has ridden him before. Funnily enough, Fran also rode him before he’d ever run for me and liked him,” said the Lambourn trainer.
Jim Goldie saddles Nicholas T, who was runner-up in the Mile Handicap last year and tries a mile and a half for the first time.
“Obviously a mile and a half is a different pitch,” said the Glasgow trainer, who has enjoyed some big Saturday success in recent weeks.
“He ran well in the Zetland Gold Cup over a mile and two, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with a mile and a half at Ascot.
“He’s in good form and fast ground will suit him. He should run well.”
Goldie is a regular supporter of the Shergar Cup and accepts it is part and parcel of the competition drawing a jockey, in this case Sweden’s Per Anders-Graberg of the European team, he does not know.
“They are usually all good jockeys. Whether he can translate to Scottish, time will tell!” he said.
John Quinn’s two runners – El Astronaute and Shaheen – are in the two sprint handicaps that top and tail the card. They will be ridden by the other members of the GB and Ireland team in Pat Cosgrave and Berry respectively.
El Astronaute will try to go one better in the opening Dash after finishing second to Under The Covers at Goodwood last week.
“He ran well last week. The winner won nicely, but the rain they had suited the winner,” said Quinn.
Shaheen heads to Ascot for the Sprint Handicap on the back of a success at Windsor on Monday.
“He’s in very good form. He won nicely at Windsor the other day,” said the Malton handler.
“He’s come out of the race in good shape and I would hope he’ll run well.”
Stuart Williams has drawn two members of the Girls team, Hayley Turner and Josephine Gordon respectively, for his two runners, Via Serendipity in the Mile Handicap and Bajan Gold in the Classic Handicap.
The pair are no strangers to Ascot, both having run well there on their latest start.
“I’m supporting the Girls team!” said Williams.
“Via Serendipity has been in very good form and likes Ascot.
“Obviously he’s been running on the straight track and this one is round the bend, but he’s in very good form and I’d be very hopeful for a good run.”
Williams also feels Bajan Gold has claims in his race after only being beaten a neck over the course and distance two weeks ago.
“It’s a step up in grade for him,” said the Newmarket handler.
“He’s got near bottom weight, but he ran a lovely race at Ascot last time.”