James Given has high hopes for Indianapolis in the Shergar Cup Challenge at Ascot on Saturday.
A winner in Ireland last season when trained by Aidan O’Brien, the Galileo colt has been running well in defeat since arriving in Britain – most recently finishing fourth in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock.
Given said: “He’s been knocking on the door in some good races and he’s still a relatively inexperienced horse.
“He only had three runs before we bought him, having been a lead horse at Ballydoyle. I think it’s taken a while for him to learn he’s not a lead horse any more and we’re putting some cheek pieces on him, just to help him concentrate at the business end of the race.
“He ran very well behind Red Verdon at Doncaster earlier in the year and on his last run in the Old Newton Cup, you’d give him a fair chance.”
Indianapolis will be ridden by Australian Mark Zahra.
Among the nine horses taking him on are three from Ian Williams’ yard in Reshoun (Jamie Spencer), Restorer (Adrie de Vries) and the hat-trick seeking Mandarin (Filip Minarik).
William Haggas is represented by Big Kitten (Yuga Kawada), and said: “Big Kitten is a very solid horse and I would hope he’ll run well. This race should be tailor-made for him.”
The second race of the afternoon is the Shergar Cup Stayers, in which Pat Chamings runs dual course winner What A Welcome.
The five-year-old returns to action just seven days after running with credit behind the remarkable King’s Advice at Goodwood.
“There wasn’t a lot of races coming up for him and he’s a course and distance winner, so we thought we’d give it a go,” said Chamings.
“He didn’t have a hard race at Goodwood as he ended up too far back and it just didn’t happen for him on the day.”
What A Welcome will be ridden by four-times German champion jockey Minarik and faces Mick Channon’s Billy Ray (Danny Tudhope) and Andrew Balding’s Lorelina (Jamie Kah), among others.
In the Shergar Cup Mile, Nicholas T bids for a fourth win in five starts for Jim Goldie and Jamie Spencer.
Hong Kong-based rider Vincent Ho is on board Marcus Tregoning’s Power Of Darkness, who claimed a third career win on his latest outing at Salisbury.
Tregoning said: “We’re glad he got in first of all, as we weren’t sure he was going to get a run.
“He’s in good form and he’s an uncomplicated ride, so hopefully the jockey can get him there to go close or win.”
Boerhan heads the weights for the formidable Haggas-Tudhope combination in the Shergar Cup Classic, but the trainer is more hopeful than confident about his chances.
He said: “He’s become very disappointing. He has the ability, but he hasn’t been running as well as he should have been.”
Among the obvious threats are Mark Johnston’s trio of Vivid Diamond (Tadhg O’Shea), Sapa Inca (Hayley Turner) and Asian Angel (Jamie Spencer).
Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “All three have the right to be there. Vivid Diamond finished second over the course and distance a couple of weeks ago and Sapa Inca ran a good race at Goodwood to finish second behind a handicap blot of Roger Varian’s (Aktau). If she runs to the same level, she could take a bit of beating.
“Asian Angel ran disappointingly at Goodwood. He was always behind the bridle and never in the race, so hopefully a more conventional track and stepping up to a mile and a half will help him.”
The final race of the afternoon is the Shergar Cup Sprint, in which the Haggas-trained Victory Day is likely to be favourite under Spencer.
He makes his first appearance since being touched off in a valuable sprint handicap at York in June.
“He’s coming back and he’s in good form. Hopefully he’ll run a good race,” said Haggas.