William Haggas has two strong contenders as he goes in search of a first win in the bet365 Cambridgeshire at Newmarket on Saturday.
Alfarris is one of the favourites and has yet to be out of the first two all season, while Seniority, owned by the Queen, won the Golden Mile at Goodwood.
Haggas has enjoyed a stellar season – but victory in one of Newmarket’s most historic races would be a big feather in his cap.
“They are a pair of good, solid older horses in good form, but it is always a competitive race and you will usually encounter a couple of blots on the handicap, so it is a tough one to win,” said Haggas.
“You need to stay well to win the Cambridgeshire. Alfarris is fine over a mile and a quarter, while Seniority is a winner over one mile and three furlongs, so that is a plus for them.
“We have won a few big handicaps over the years, but the Cambridgeshire is not one of them and it’s a race I’d like to add to my CV.”
Alfarris is owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who also runs Afaak, trained by Charlie Hills.
“I saw Alfarris earlier in the week and he looks fantastic,” said racing manager Angus Gold.
“I think the ground and the trip should be fine for him and I would hope he’ll run very well, but it’s hard to say you’re going to go and win a race like the Cambridgeshire.
“Afaak will run as well and we’re putting a pair of blinkers on him. I think the general feeling is he’s not putting absolutely everything he has into his races, but he has plenty of ability when he’s in the right mood.”
David Menuisier’s subsequent Juddmonte International third Thundering Blue was beaten into seventh in the race 12 months ago, but he is back with Danceteria, three times a winner on the July Course this season.
“I don’t think the drop back to nine furlongs will be a problem because he’s won over a mile and he’s got a lot of pace,” said Menuisier.
“I think the Cambridgeshire could suit him. The horse is feeling absolutely great and he ticks a lot of boxes.
“In the last few years the three-year-olds don’t have a great record in the race, which puts a little dampener on his chance. But if I look at my horse and the conditions of the race and the ground, I think I am quite confident of a good run.”
Saeed bin Suroor has employed two young jockeys for his two runners, with Hector Crouch on Mountain Hunter and Rossa Ryan on Very Talented.
“Very Talented won well last time after two years off,” said Bin Suroor.
“It was good for him, he finished his race well and he came back well. He’s been good after the race. The straight nine furlongs will suit him and we are looking forward to a good result from him. He finished third in this race two years ago.
“Mountain Hunter was unlucky at Doncaster last time, but this course will suit him.
“He’s a big strong horse. He’s in the right place and we are looking for a good result from him as well.”
John Quinn has employed the services of Sean Davis for Mistiroc.
“I’m happy with him. He picked up an injury a year and a half ago so he was off for a long time before Epsom, but we were pleased how he ran,” Quinn told At The Races.
“The form of the race has worked out and we’re bringing over Sean Davis (from Ireland). He’s a good apprentice with my good friend Ger Lyons. He claims 5lb and is a very good lad.”