Andrew Balding believes Horseplay ticks plenty of boxes when she lines-up for Saturday’s bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.
The four-year-old heads north from Kingsclere with just two runs behind her in the past 12 months, but her latest effort in May when she was second to Coronet in the Middleton Stakes over an extended mile and a quarter at York suggests she could be a major player.
Balding believes going back up to a mile and a half will help the daughter of Cape Cross.
“The York form looks strong and it was a deliberate move to wait for this race,” he said.
“The step back up to a mile and a half certainly shouldn’t be a problem and she looked to the handle the quicker ground well at York.
“She seems in great form and her work has been good, so hopefully she’ll be very competitive.”
Luca Cumani is hoping conditions will not be too quick for God Given, who comes into the reckoning after registering a course and distance success in the Pinnacle Stakes four weeks ago.
“She’s in good form, I just hope the ground isn’t too firm. We’ll have to see what it’s like on Saturday,” said Cumani.
“She did win on good to firm last time, but it looks a tougher race on Saturday.
“Everything has gone very smoothly since her last run.”
Precious Ramotswe bids to give trainer John Gosden a record eighth victory in this race.
The Newmarket handler, who first won it with Squeak in 1997, is currently tying on seven with the late Sir Henry Cecil.
The daughter of Nathaniel, owned by Anthony Oppenheimer, has won four of her five career starts and arrives on Merseyside on the back of an all-the-way success in the Group Three Bronte Cup at York six weeks ago.
However, the owner is concerned about the prospect of very firm ground.
“She’s very progressive. She might find the ground too firm. I’m not sure how much Haydock have watered,” said Oppenheimer.
“It may be a bit too firm for her, but the intention is to run.
“If it was soft ground I’d say she would win, but on this ground I would have my doubts.”
Aidan O’Brien sends over Flattering as he seeks to win this Group Two heat for the first time.
The Galileo filly may have had her limitations exposed when fifth to stablemate Forever Together in the Investec Oaks at Epsom but she bounced back when taking the Munster Oaks at Cork last time.
“She’s in good form. Obviously she won in Cork last time and we’ve been happy with her since then,” said O’Brien.
“We were delighted with her in Cork.”
David Simcock’s Mrs Sippy is the only other three-year-old taking part with likely outsiders Euro Nightmare and Snowy Winter making up the seven runners.