Island Brave and Kelly’s Dino – first and second in a valuable race at Ayr last month – meet again in Saturday’s bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock.
Heather Main’s Island Brave came out on top by three-quarters of a length in Scotland and is 1lb worse off with the Karl Burke-trained Kelly’s Dino.
With over £60,000 to the winner on Merseyside, a competitive field, headed by John Gosden’s First Eleven, has gathered.
“I was absolutely delighted with his win at Ayr last time out. It was a really good run and I am hoping he can be as good as he was that day. He still seems fresh and well,” said Main.
“It will be a furlong less on Saturday, but I don’t think it will make that much of a difference as he ran quite well over 11 furlongs at Kempton earlier in the year and there should be a good pace in a race like the Old Newton Cup.
“He won the Colwick Cup well at Nottingham last year and I think there could be more to come from him on turf. A lot of people have said he is more an all-weather horse, but I think he is more versatile than he has been given credit for.”
Burke has his eyes on the Ebor further down the line – and he may need to win a race with his six-year-old to ensure a run.
“Kelly’s Dino is in good form and has come out of Ayr well,” said Burke.
“It was a good run at Ayr, where we were hoping he would win and get a penalty to get into the bet365 Trophy at Newmarket’s July meeting.
“Our ultimate aim is to get him into the Ebor at York as we feel he is probably better over a bit a further nowadays.
“Having said all that, the Old Newton Cup is a very good prize to go for and hopefully a good run on Saturday will see him rated high enough to get into the Ebor.”
He added: “He has relatively few miles on the clock for a six-year-old, as he was on the sidelines with injury as a three-year-old and a four-year-old.
“The wind operation he underwent before Ayr has definitely helped him and we are hoping he is a horse we can now enjoy for the next couple of seasons.”
John Best’s seven-year-old Eddystone Rock has been ultra-consistent this season and ran well at Epsom on Derby day last time out.
“Eddystone Rock is a very consistent horse, who has always run his race for us since we got him,” said Best.
“He has run well twice at Epsom this season, but I don’t think it is a track that suits him that well as he doesn’t really come down the hill.
“The Old Newton Cup is obviously going to be a very tough race as you would expect, but I think we are going there with a decent each-way chance.”