Havana Grey bids to stake a claim for top sprinting honours this season when he lines up in the Longholes Palace House Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.
Karl Burke’s three-year-old was a smart juvenile last term, winning two Listed races at Sandown and the Group Three Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
He was also runner-up in the Group One Prix Morny and the Group Two Flying Childers Stakes.
Burke is keen to find out early if Havana Grey can compete with older sprinters in a race that three-year-olds have a fair record. The last one of that age group to be successful was Amour Propre in 2009.
The North Yorkshire handler said: “We’re very happy with him. He’s wintered really well. He’s grown and looks in great condition for his first run.
“He will obviously come on for it. We’re just looking to find out exactly where we stand in the sprinting ranks against the older horses.
“He’s in great order and hopefully he will run well enough to have a go at the Temple Stake at Haydock at the end of the month.
“We’re top-rated and we’re getting the weight. It’s his first time at Newmarket. Whether he’ll handle the undulations is a bit of an unknown but he’s a well-balanced horse.
“He handled Goodwood well enough so I’m sure he’ll handle Newmarket.
“I see him as a five-furlong horse rather than over six furlongs but Saturday will tell us where we are going for the rest of the season.”
David Griffiths is looking forward to running Ornate, who makes his first appearance since being bought out of Robert Cowell’s stable for 110,000 guineas at Tattersalls Autumn Sales.
The five-year-old gelding was sixth to Marsha in this race 12 months ago, having finished second to Brando in the Abernant Stakes the previous month.
“It’s his first run for us, so it’s a bit of a learning curve for us, but his work has been spectacularly good,” said Griffiths.
“He’s probably not quite there in his coat yet but he’s nearly there.
“It’s a competitive little race. Karl Burke’s horse down the bottom is quite strong.
“Last year’s was probably a lot better and he was only beaten three lengths, so he has got good course and distance form and he runs well fresh too.
“From what we know of him, if he was a horse that had run for us before I’d be going there very confident because of his work.”