Dubai Carnival winner Hit The Bid returns to action in the Kilrush Stud Abergwaun Stakes at Tipperary on Thursday.
Darren Bunyan’s stable star finished second on his first run at Meydan before winning a valuable handicap. He then finished third in a Group Three to Ertijaal before disappointing in the Al Quoz on World Cup night.
Off since then, with Irish Champions Weekend the aim, Bunyan believes Hit The Bid has improved for his break.
“I’ve been more than happy with him at home, he thrived for the experience out in Dubai and has loved having a break,” said Bunyan.
“This race is all about getting a really good blow into him before the Flying Five at the Curragh, that’s his big aim.
“We didn’t take him to the Nunthorpe as he’s not quite fully fit and he’ll improve on whatever he does at Tipperary.
“I’m very happy with him and think he learned so much in Dubai he can only be a better horse now. It’s a different way of racing out there against horse like Ertijaal.
“Things didn’t go right on World Cup night but we’ll take him back there next year. If we’d kept him in training this year and aimed at Ascot that would have meant two years in training without a break and the owners agreed with me he’d be better for some time off.”
Bunyan also runs Optionality, a four-length winner of a Curragh maiden on her second start.
“She’s a filly I’ve always liked. She made her debut in a Listed race at Dundalk but didn’t like the track,” said Bunyan.
“I don’t think she wants fast ground so we’ve had to be patient with her but she was impressive at the Curragh.
“I don’t think she’ll be beating Hit The Bid but she’s a smart filly and could also be one for Dubai.”
Aidan O’Brien’s St Patrick’s Day, a full brother to Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, is on a retrieval mission, having failed to win in three races in Ireland.
O’Brien also runs Dali and Different League, while Ron Harris’ Under The Covers is the sole British runner.