James Tate feels Invincible Army has the ammunition to out-battle the opposition in the Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.
The son of Exceed And Excel justified his trainer’s faith in him when making a flying start to his three-year-old career with an emphatic victory in the Group Three Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.
Tate said: “He’s a stable star. We always thought he’d do well from two to three.
“I think he showed he was in good health and showed he had come on for the winter when he won the Pavilion easily.
“This is a much tougher assignment. There’s a Group One winner in there and three Group Two winners, but on the other hand he’s had a perfect preparation.
“He looks a million dollars and I wouldn’t swap him for any of the others.
“It was lovely to win a Group Three without the need for a back-hander.
“He came out of it like he hadn’t had a race, so really delighted with him. I do think he’ll need a career best to win it but we’re hopeful we might get one.”
Barraquero bids to confirm his place in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot when he returns to action after being off the track since winning the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood in August, during which he sustained a minor shin injury.
Trainer Brian Meehan said: “I’m excited. He is in great form. He is such a super character and he has got a wonderful temperament.
“I don’t want it to be too firm up there, but it sounds like there is plenty of rain about. He is in great form and all roads lead to Royal Ascot, really.
“There was probably nowhere else to go with him before now.”
Another runner returning from a lengthy break is Unfortunately, who won the Prix Morny but disappointed on his final start of the year when unplaced in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.
Trainer Karl Burke said: “It’s as good a Sandy Lane as there will have been for many years.
“Our horse goes there in good form and this has been the plan all through the winter, to have his prep run here, so we always knew it was going to be a good race to start off in.
“He gave himself a rap on his coronet band in the Middle Park and he did come back sore. That wasn’t his true running and it’s just a pity it happened, but we will put that behind us and he’s in great shape for this.
At the other end of the scale, James Garfield will be having his third run of the spring, having won the seven-furlong Greenham Stakes before going on to finish seventh in the 2000 Guineas over a mile.
George Scott switches back in trip here and is hoping James Garfield can get back in the sprinting groove.
He said: “We have been really pleased with him since the Guineas.
“Always in the back of our minds was that he might be a sprinter rather than a miler, but he won one of the most important trials so we had to give it a go and he wasn’t disgraced at all.
“I think he will be more comfortable back at six furlongs, but this is a ripper of a race and anyone could win it.”
Heartache won the Queen Mary and Flying Childers last term and suffered her sole defeat when a close third to Unfortunately in the Morny.
Trainer Clive Cox said: “She has wintered really well and we are very happy. She has had a great preparation.
“Obviously it is her first step up to six furlongs, but we are quite relaxed about that – I just hope they don’t get too much rain.
“She proved last year she is a top-class prospect and I’ve every reason to believe she has more than retained that ability and improved.”
Richard Fahey’s Gimcrack winner Sands Of Mali, the John Gosden-trained Emblazoned and Actress from Aidan O’Brien’s stable complete a high-quality field.