Charlie Appleby hopes Group One winner Barney Roy can show he retains all of his old ability when he contests Wednesday’s Ascot Shop Paradise Stakes.
The son of Excelebration, who claimed the 2017 St James’s Palace Stakes at the track when trained by Richard Hannon, will be making his first start since returning to training after proving to be infertile at stud when he lines up in the mile Listed contest.
Despite not being seen on a since on a racecourse in more than 18 months, the five-year-old, who has been gelded ahead of his return to racing, is reported to have been working well.
Appleby said: “He was a very talented three-year-old, who unfortunately got an injury at the end of his three-year-old career and then proved to be infertile at stud.
“He has been with us for the last couple of months and has pleased us with everything we have asked him to do. He shows all the enthusiasm you like to see in a racehorse.
“At home he shows he retains good ability, but the only way we’ll tell is on the racetrack and that will be the acid test.
“From what we have experienced, he is quite an easy horse to get fit and he is quite athletic. I’m not going there saying he will need the run as he will be fit enough to run well, he might just be a bit ring rusty. From a fitness side, he is ready to go.
“We had thought about going to Windsor in a couple of weeks, but he has come to hand quicker than we expected.”
The Newmarket handler will also be represented in the race by First Contact, who will be dropping back in trip after running over nine furlongs on his two previous starts.
Appleby added: “First Contact is in there on his own merit as he is rated 109. We felt that, even before deciding to run Barney Roy, dropping back to a mile for this race would be ideal for him.
“He will be up there on the front end to ensure there is a good pace, but that is his running style.”
Owen Burrows feels Wadilsafa, one of two runners in the race for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, has taken another step forward as he looks to pick up where he left off after winning his final two starts last year.
Burrows said: “We’ve had this race in mind for him for ages and although he has got a 3lb penalty to contend with, he is a lot stronger horse this year.
“I think the ground should suit and Ascot should suit, so I am looking forward to running him. Jim (Crowley) rode him last week, but he is never the most flashiest at home and it is not until he gets to the track that he shows you his best.
“We’ve left him in the Lockinge and he will be entered in the Queen Anne, but he has got to prove he is good enough to go for these races first.”
Having sent out Tabarrak, who will carry Sheikh Hamdan’s second colours, to win the race two years ago, trainer Richard Hannon hopes history can repeat itself.
Hannon added: “Tabarrak is a lovely colt with a big heart that always tries very hard. He is very consistent, but this is a good race and I hope he acquits himself well. He has got a small penalty, but he is good horse and he likes the track.”
Wesley Ward has enjoyed plenty of success at the track with multiple Group One winner Lady Aurelia and he will be looking for her half-sister Lady Pauline to follow in her hoofprints in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes.
The American handler said: “The first time we breezed her it was ‘boom’ – right into the bridle. It was the same the first time from the gate – boom. All they had to do was slow her down.
“Every time she has breezed on the grass since and the rider just has to lean on her, just to hold on to her.
“I haven’t had to teach her to go fast, I’ve had to teach her to slow down!
“She has everything you want to see in a two-year-old at this point of the year heading to Ascot.”