Raymond Tusk bids to cement his Classic claims in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
The High Chaparral colt has come a long way since making a winning debut at the Berkshire circuit in the spring, finishing second at Newmarket and sixth in the Coral-Eclipse before running out an impressive winner of the Listed Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton.
Trainer Richard Hannon believes his charge is an ideal candidate for next month’s William Hill St Leger at Doncaster, but first takes on his elders at Group Three level this weekend.
Hannon said: “He has been in good form and if they have any rain, that will suit him down to the ground.
“He will get the trip and we like him a lot. He is taking on older horses, but I think the track will suit him and he is in good form.
“We could have gone to Deauville, but we thought we would wait for this race as it is only up the road and he won his maiden there and he seemed to enjoy it.
“He has a lot of class and we’ve always thought the world of him. The St Leger is the main plan.”
Raymond Tusk faces seven rivals over the best part of a mile and three-quarters.
David Simcock’s Algometer and the William Haggas-trained Dal Harraild set the standard on ratings, while Charlie Appleby is looking forward to saddling his fast-improving four-year-old Hamada ahead of a potential trip to Australia.
The son of Cape Cross has won each of his three starts since returning from well over a year on the sidelines and could not have been more impressive when running away with a Newmarket handicap last month.
Appleby said: “It’s a big step up from a handicap to Group class and you’ve got to give horses like Algometer and Dal Harraild a lot of respect.
“Our horse is on an upward curve and it was always the plan to come here after Newmarket.
“Hopefully this will be his last run before going to Australia. Obviously it depends on the result, but if he can finish in the first three, hopefully that will be enough to get him a run in the Melbourne Cup.
“After that, we’d have to decide whether we gave him a prep run in Australia or went straight for it.”
The Newmarket handler has a second string to his bow in Walton Street, who was last seen finishing third in the Duke of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot.
He was withdrawn at Goodwood recently after he arrived at the start without the cheekpieces that had been declared for him.
He added: “It was obviously unfortunate what happened at Goodwood. It was just human error.
“He seems in good form and he’s in a similar boat to Hamada in that we’re seeing how he performs before deciding whether to put him on the flight to Australia.”
Clive Cox’s Perfect Clarity, On To Victory from Eve Johnson Houghton’s yard and the Ian Williams-trained Jet Streaming complete the line-up.