Darren Bunyan feels Hit The Bid has sound prospects of putting the record straight from last year in the Al Basti Equiworld Mercury Stakes at Dundalk on Friday.
Hit The Bid was just beaten by Take Cover in the five-furlong dash, when things did not go quite right, and Bunyan is convinced his sprinter is a better horse 12 months on.
The four-year-old has had a decent season, winning at Meydan in February and finishing close fourth to Havana Grey in the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh last month.
He travelled over to France for the Prix de l’Abbaye earlier this month and, though he was unable to get competitive, Bunyan reports Hit The Bid to have come out of the race in good condition.
“The ground went against us again the last day unfortunately, but there was no harm in having the run in it anyway,” said the Curragh handler.
“I couldn’t be happier with the horse going into the race. He’s in great shape. We know he handles the surface from last year.
“He was unlucky last year. He got thrown wide on the bend and it cost him the race.
“He’s a whole different horse than he was last year. He’s there with every chance. I’d rather be going into the race with him than taking him on.”
Abbaye fifth Lost Treasure heads Aidan O’Brien’s three runners and he makes a quick reappearance after suffering a narrow defeat at Navan on Sunday. All The King’s Men and Fantasy make up the Ballydoyle trainer’s team.
Joseph O’Brien’s Amthaal completes the home brigade.
Among a powerful contingent from the UK is Encore D’Or, who is on a hat-trick after victories at Yarmouth and Leicester.
Both those wins were on turf, but the six-year-old is rated higher on the all-weather, giving trainer Robert Cowell plenty of optimism.
“He’s won his last two. He’s better on the all-weather than he is on the grass,” said the Newmarket handler.
“As long as he hasn’t had too much racing, which he doesn’t appear to be the case, then I think he should be showing up quite smartly.
“We’re looking forward to it and it’s fingers crossed.”
Charlie Hills runs Equilateral while a pair of two-year-olds, Karl Burke’s Life Of Riley and Shumookhi, make up the nine-strong field.