Boitron puts his Classic credentials on the line in the Watership Down Stud Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
The seven-furlong heat lost some of its sparkle when hot favourite Too Darn Hot was ruled out through injury on Wednesday, but Boitron still brings some decent form to the table having finished fourth in last year’s Group One Prix Jean Luc Lagardere on his final start last term.
Winner of his previous three outings for trainer Richard Hannon, Boitron has undergone wind surgery over the winter and connections believe his form withstands the closest inspection.
Tim Palin, racing manager for part-owners Middleham Park Racing, said: “The Lagardere form was given a boost by Broome winning the Ballysax last weekend and the fifth horse, Shaman, came out and won the Prix la Force recently.
“It was a bit of a strange race, they seemed to keep the same order throughout, on the pace was the place to be and we found ourselves with too much to do.
“That was his first run in a Group One, but he was far from disgraced.
“We think he wants a mile, he’s bred for it.”
Mohaather marked himself as a potential Classic contender when securing his second win in three career outings in the Molson Coors Stakes – better known as the Horris Hill – over this seven furlongs last October.
Sent off the 33-1 outsider on that occasion, he ran out a comfortable winner and trainer Marcus Tregoning has been pleased by his progress over the winter.
He said: “I think we’ve had a pretty straightforward winter. It has been relatively mild compared to last year when we got all the snow. We’ve had a good run with him and he seems in good form.
“Ultimately the Horris Hill was an indication that we might have a nice horse. He had been working very well at home and I was impressed in the way he won.
“He is still learning. I think he has more to offer because he was still a bit green. When he hit the front there, he just had to be caught hold of a little. He definitely has ability and we will see if he has trained on.
“He will go well prepared and in very good form. Hopefully he will run a nice race and we’ll see what happens. There are no guarantees he be will good enough to win it, but he is in very good form.”
Ed Vaughan will be keeping a close eye on the weather for Magic J, as he does not want conditions to be too testing for the Scat Daddy colt, who won on his only start at Yarmouth last September.
He said: “Obviously with the favourite out it’s a bit of a different race, but the ground would still be a concern. On his pedigree and his action, he’s a horse that wants better ground so we will see how it is after racing on Friday.
“We’re keen to get him out and see where we are. He’s a horse that won his maiden on his only start last year, so it’s hard to know how good he is – you only really know when you get racing.
“He’s entered in the Guineas, but we’ll see how he goes at the weekend before making plans.”
With intended mount Too Darn Hot on the sidelines, Frankie Dettori teams up with Hugo Palmer’s challenger Almufti, who won one of his four outings last term and finished third behind Mohaather on his final outing of 2018.
Palmer said: “He is an interesting horse. We thought a huge amount of him last year. He was disappointing the first two times and he had rumbling sore shins and I had to take my medicine and give him the time he needed.
“He came back and won very well at Kempton, then he ran a good race on ground too soft in the Horris Hill. He has shown plenty of speed so it will be interesting to see what his best trip is. He could be a Britannia or a Jersey horse in time.
“He has done nothing wrong in his work. I’ve been very pleased how he has taken everything and he looks tremendous. We took him away to Chelmsford the other day so he should be ready.”
Great Scot represents Tom Dascombe, while French Group Two winner Hello Youmzain is another leading candidate for Kevin Ryan in the 10-strong field.