Ruth Carr has high hopes Pipers Note can make it fourth time lucky in the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon on Saturday.
The eight-year-old is an eight-times course winner and went close to winning this valuable prize 12 months ago when beaten three-quarters of a length by Mattmu.
He was fifth in 2014 and fourth in 2016 when in the care of Richard Whitaker, but appears to have taken on a new lease of life since joining the Carr team in the autumn of 2016.
He has been in top form of late, having won his last two starts, both at the North Yorkshire track, and Carr could not be happier with her stable stalwart.
“He absolutely loves the place. He’s won his last two there and I’m really looking forward to it,” said the York handler.
“As he’s got older, he’s able to handle softer ground better than when he was younger, so fast ground isn’t as important as it once was.
“It was a good performance last time out and I honestly don’t know what it is about the place he loves so much.
“Some horses handle the undulations better than others and he is obviously one of those.”
Mattmu’s trainer Tim Easterby runs Flying Pursuit and Golden Apollo, who were first and second in the Sky Bet Dash at York three weeks ago.
Easterby admits there is little to choose between the pair and hopes there is enough ease in the ground for them.
“They are both in good form. Both want cut in the ground. They both should run well,” said the Great Habton handler.
“We can’t split them at home, so we’ll see.”
Richard Fahey has a four-strong team – Kimberella, Growl, Brian The Snail and Marie Of Lyon – as he bids for a third win in this big sprint handicap.
Kimberella was second in this race in 2015 and retains plenty of ability at the age of eight as he showed when winning at Chester last time.
“He loves the track, we’re taking 7lb off him so we’re hoping it will help him. He holds the track record there and we’re very happy with him,” said Fahey.
Growl is a regular in these events and put up a typically creditable effort when third in the Stewards’ Cup two weeks ago.
“He’s knocking on the door. With slower ground and a bit of luck, he could win one of these,” said Fahey.
Marie Of Lyon was down the field in the Goodwood showpiece, but Fahey felt the filly did not get the chance to produce her best form.
“She was a little bit unlucky at Goodwood. Things didn’t go right for her, but she’s in good form,” he said.
The trainer feels Brian The Snail does not always show how good he is on the track.
“He has plenty of ability, but we see more of that than people do at the races,” said the Musley Bank handler.
Spring Loaded has to defy a career-high mark but showed he can still be competitive when finishing strongly to be just out of the places in the Stewards’ Cup despite suffering a slight injury.
He had won his previous race at Ascot in good style and landed the Portland Handicap at Doncaster in tremendous fashion last season.
His trainer Paul d’Arcy is just hoping the cards fall his way.
“He’s come out of Goodwood very well. He got a little injury during the race, but he’s over that,” said the Newmarket handler.
“Like all sprinters, he needs a lot of luck in running.
“You need to be where the pace is and where he’s drawn, hopefully he’ll get sucked into the race and can win for us.
“He was a very well-handicapped horse when he won the Portland last year. Circumstances as to how the season had gone for him meant he was well-handicapped that day.”
Aeolus may be one of the outsiders but trainer Ed Walker feels the seven-year-old can put up a good show back on turf after disappointing on the all-weather at Newcastle last time.
“He’s in great form. We’re looking forward to getting him back on the grass,” said Walker.
“The ground should be ideal, not sure about the track, but he’s on a good mark and one he’s capable of winning off. He should go well.”