Flaming Spear bids to provide trainer Dean Ivory with a second victory in the Gigaset International Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
It is just two years since the Hertfordshire handler teamed up with prominent owner Tony Bloom and jockey Robert Winston to claim the £150,000 contest with heavily-backed favourite Librisa Breeze, and Flaming Spear bids to repeat the dose for the same connections.
Formerly trained by Kevin Ryan, the six-year-old switched yards earlier this year and made a most encouraging start for Ivory when fifth in last month’s Royal Hunt Cup, faring best of those that raced on the far side of the track.
Despite Flaming Spear’s fine effort at the Royal meeting, Ivory is unsure what to expect this weekend.
He said: “I haven’t had him all that long and I don’t really know enough about him to tell you how he’ll run.
“I’m a bit concerned about the ground and the weather. It’s so hot at the moment it takes a lot out of horses just travelling to the races.
“He might be drawn (stall 19) on the wrong side, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’d prefer to be in the middle so you’d have a choice of where to go, but we don’t have that choice from where we are.
“I’m more negative than positive, to be honest.”
The Roger Fell-trained Burnt Sugar returns to action just a fortnight after landing the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket.
Fell feels any rain that arrives at Ascot will boost his six-year-old’s chances.
“We’ve been happy with him since Newmarket,” said the Hawton-based trainer.
“A bit of rain would definitely help him as he does prefer a cut in the ground.
“I thought it was good ground when he won at Newmarket.”
Just half a length behind Burnt Sugar on the July Course two weeks ago was Spanish City and the pair renew rivalry this weekend.
Trainer Roger Varian said on his website: “Spanish City ran a huge race in the Bunbury Cup having raced without cover for a long way and he performed well over the course and distance in the Victoria Cup previously.
“He looks handicapped to win a big pot like this, but he’s definitely best on fast ground and he wouldn’t want the thunderstorms to materialise.”
Stuart Williams is looking forward to saddling Via Serendipity, who was last seen finishing third in the Coral Challenge at Sandown.
He said: “I’d rather not have been drawn 29 if I’d have had a choice. But he ran well in the Victoria Cup at Ascot, over the course and distance, and he’s been in good form since, so I’d be hopeful.”
Other contenders for a fiercely-competitive contest include the Ian Williams-trained Shady McCoy, Roger Charlton’s Makzeem and Ripp Orf from David Elsworth’s stable.