William Haggas admits Urban Fox has got to prove her impressive win in Ireland last time out was no fluke when she contests the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on Thursday.
While the filly showed useful form for James Tate last season, her previous owner Saeed Manana probably felt he had done well in getting 425,000 guineas for her at Tattersalls in December.
She has taken her form to a new level for Haggas, though, winning a handicap first time out, finishing fourth in the Duke of Cambridge at Royal Ascot and then blowing the field away in the Pretty Polly at the Curragh.
Behind her that day was Oaks winner Forever Together, who was only just touched off in the Irish Oaks by Haggas’ Sea Of Class.
“The draw (two) is fine. It is a tough race, but it is nice to be involved and she has got a definite chance of adding to her win last time,” said Haggas.
“It was a good effort in Ireland, but now she has got to confirm that performance. We hoped the step up in trip would bring out improvement and it turned out that it did.”
The horse stepping up in trip for the first time on this occasion is Richard Hannon’s 1000 Guineas winner Billesdon Brook.
Last seen finishing fourth in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, she will be without regular partner Sean Levey, who is on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.
Hannon said: “There are not many runners in the race and I think she will prefer going a mile and a quarter rather than a mile.
“She has had a nice break and we are very hopeful. I thought immediately after Ascot she wanted a mile and a quarter.
“She never looked like she was going to win at Ascot and I was a bit disappointed she didn’t go whoosh like she can do.”
Sir Michael Stoute’s Veracious was a leading fancy for the Guineas, but her Classic hopes were derailed by a setback.
She reappeared in the Coronation at the Royal meeting, and ran a race full of promise to be third.
Chris Richardson, racing manager for owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “I think her run at Ascot was above what we expected, to be honest. We were delighted with the performance and were obviously beaten by a special filly.
“Sir Michael did not want to tuck her in behind horses at Ascot and then find she was fighting for her head in the early half of the race, which is why we let her stride on.
“It wasn’t the intention to set it up for anybody else, it was more the fact she had not raced for so long.
“The 10 furlongs will certainly give us other options if it all works out. As far as we can see on pedigree, she definitely deserves the opportunity over 10 furlongs.”
The six-runner field is completed by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Rhododendron, Oaks runner-up Wild Illusion, from the yard of Charlie Appleby, and Martyn Meade’s Wilamina.
Wilamina claimes Group Three honours at Epsom in June, but was well held in third place in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes.
Meade said: “If I can pick up a place in a Group One, that would be great. She really deserves it as she is a lovely mare.
“I think it will be difficult to win, but if she can beat two or three, that will do.”