Cracksman’s owner Anthony Oppenheimer admits he is feeling the nerves ahead of the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday.
John Gosden’s charge looks a different animal to the one who finished third in the Derby this time last year and his last two races, the Champion Stakes and the Prix Ganay, have been processions.
But heading towards a Group One with a long odds-on favourite brings a different kind of pressure.
“The rain hasn’t worried us, as long as there’s not much more. You don’t want Group One horses running on heavy ground, really,” said Oppenheimer.
“I’m very apprehensive before any race. I’ll never forget Golden Horn at York (2015 Juddmonte International) when he was too keen behind his pacemaker and got beaten. That proved anything can happen.
“Golden Horn also jumped a shadow in Ireland (in the Irish Champion Stakes) and was lucky to keep that race, so I never take anything for granted.
“With Cracksman having proved he’s as good as ever in France, we’re now having to fight off all the others.
“It’s not a pushover by any means. Hawkbill is a good horse and he likes a bit of give in the ground, but I’m not sure if that will suit Idaho.
“It’s a good race, there’s not too many of them, but it looks like Yucatan might be a pacemaker, which should help.
“I think we made the right decision not to go to Ireland (for the Tattersalls Gold Cup). The ground would have been quick enough for him last weekend.
“This is close enough to Ascot, but it should set him up nicely so we’ve got our fingers crossed – this is what it’s all about but it is quite nerve-racking .”
Hawkbill is certainly no pushover and the 2016 Eclipse winner proved his well-being when winning the Sheema Classic in Dubai for Charlie Appleby.
“He goes there on the back of a career high as a Sheema Classic winner,” said Appleby.
“We’ve got 8lb find to beat Cracksman officially on the ratings. He’s going to be a hard horse to crack, but he’s going into the race in great form.
“His conditions are there. As much as Cracksman loves the conditions, Hawkbill has brought some of his best performances on soft ground.
“We tick the same boxes as Cracksman – we’ve got soft ground, we’ve got track form and we’re both coming off last-win performances.
“We’ve got the favourite to beat, but we couldn’t be any happier and I feel Hawkbill is going to run a big race.”
Aidan O’Brien runs Idaho, who won for the first time since last year’s Hardwicke at Royal Ascot in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester.
The Ballydoyle handler, who also saddles Yucatan, said: “The plan was to run Idaho in the Coronation Cup before his win at Chester.
“He is in good form at home and we think he is still progressing with age.”
Adding international flavour to the contest is Markus Klug’s Windstoss, a dual Group One winner in Germany.
Klug told At The Races: “I hope we have a good race, and if we are placed we will be very happy.
“Windstoss is a very tough horse. You can ride him from any position, he’s always calm and is a strong fighter.
“He likes soft ground and he stays a mile and a half really well – perhaps he could even run over longer distances.”
Sylvester Kirk’s Salouen completes the small but select field.