James Tate has labelled Invincible Army as “the best I’ve ever had” ahead of his return to action in Wednesday’s Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.
The Invincible Spirit colt’s form could hardly have worked out any better as he chased home subsequent French Group Three winner Sands Of Mali in the Gimcrack before beating all-weather sensation Corinthia Knight in the Sirenia Stakes.
Invincible Army finished his 2017 campaign by pushing Greenham winner James Garfield close in the Mill Reef and Tate has high hopes.
He said: “I’m not surprised his form has worked out how it has as being completely honest, he’s the best horse I’ve ever had.
“His work this year has been better than it ever was last year, so we are very optimistic.
“We see him as a sprinter. He goes by everything we’ve got at home and we’ve got a top man on board (Ryan Moore) so we’re very excited.
“The programme for horses like him is pretty clear. It’s this, the Sandy Lane at Haydock and then the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, all being well.
“Like most good horses he wants good ground, but good to soft shouldn’t inconvenience him too much.”
Roger Varian takes him on with Laugh A Minute, winner of a valuable sales race at Doncaster when last seen.
“Laugh A Minute improved significantly for the drop back to six and a half furlongs at Doncaster and we’re using this as a fact-finding mission in regards to his optimum trip this season,” said the trainer on www.varianstable.com.
“The track will suit, he won’t mind the ground and he’s in the thick of things on official ratings. He’s been training nicely and I’m looking forward to getting him started.”
Charlie Appleby’s Sound And Silence and the Declan Carroll-trained Abel Handy are closely matched on last year’s form and take each other on again.
Fighting Irish, Eirene and the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned pair of Enjazaat and Eqtidaar complete the field for the Group Three.
The Longines Sagaro Stakes sees Jessica Harrington’s Torcedor return to the scene of his career-best effort when second to Order Of St George on Champions Day.
He disappointed in Dubai on his seasonal return in March, but Harrington is prepared to forgive him that.
“He seems to be in great form, I’m happy with him and he won’t mind the ground having a bit of an ease in it,” she said.
“We’ve put a line through Dubai. I’d say it was the travelling, it might have been a bridge too far.
“He likes the track at Ascot, he was fifth in the Gold Cup and ran well on Champions Day, so we’re hoping for a big run.”
Brian Meehan’s Raheen House ended his Classic campaign in good form and would not have to improve too much to be a major player in the Cup races this season.
“He had a very good campaign last year, winning both the Bahrain Trophy and the Noel Murless Stakes,” Meehan told his website.
“He has wintered very well at home and will benefit from the step up in trip this year. I am confident of a good performance and he should be in with a great chance.”
Doncaster Cup winner Desert Skyline, Chester and Lonsdale Cup hero Montaly, Mark Johnston’s improving Time To Study and the Peter Niven-trained veteran Clever Cookie complete the field.