Charlie Hills is looking forward to seeing Garrus represent his stable for the first time in the Coral Charge at Sandown on Saturday.
The three-year-old sprinter joined the Hills team following the retirement recently of trainer Jeremy Noseda and is reported to have settled in well to his new surroundings.
Garrus has won both his starts this season, the latest coming in a Listed contest at York seven weeks ago. The form has been given a lift by the second, Shades Of Blue, who has gone to land a Listed race in France and by the third, Soldier’s Call who has since finished third in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“We’re drawn a little bit wide (in stall nine), but it’s not impossible from there. I think there’s pace all round so we just need a bit of luck,” said Hills.
“He got a nice form boost since he last ran and he seems a very straightforward horse.
“He’s been good since he’s been with us. He’s got a lovely temperament.”
Sergei Prokofiev was only ninth in the King’s Stand, but his trainer Aidan O’Brien excepts the faster ground to suit him much better.
“He’s in good form. In Ascot the ground just went a little bit slow for him, which wouldn’t have been ideal, but he’s been in good form since then,” said the Ballydoyle handler.
Richard Spencer is hoping dropping to the minimum trip will see Rumble Inthejungle back to his best.
Winner of the Group Three Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood last summer, the colt did not show his true form when last of nine to Advertise in the Commonwealth Cup over six furlongs at Royal Ascot.
Despite that inauspicious start, Spencer believes Rumble Inthejungle has plenty going for him at Sandown.
“The ground is going to be fast and he is going back to five. Hopefully we can see an improvement on his run at Ascot where I think he blew away the cobwebs,” said the Newmarket handler.
“Being back at five should suit him. We planned out all the six-furlong races for him, but James (Doyle) felt after riding him at Ascot you would be silly sticking at six and that we should drop back in trip as he has no much natural speed.
“Frankie Dettori rides him for the first time and he is flying, and we have drawn stall one which is a big plus on that track.”
Cleonte ran out a ready winner of the Queen Alexandra Stakes at the Royal meeting and bids to follow up in the Coral Marathon.
Trainer Andrew Balding realises this is a tougher assignment, but is expecting another solid performance from the six-year-old stayer, owned by King Power Racing.
“We were obviously delighted with him win at Ascot. This is a stronger race, but he’s come out of Ascot really well,” said the Kingsley handler.
“I think he’ll like Sandown and I’d hope he’d run well.”
Opposition includes the Dermot Weld-trained Falcon Eight and Sir Michael Stoute’s Mekong, who was runner-up to Dee Ex Bee in the Henry II Stakes over this course and distance in May but has since disappointed at York.
Encapsulation, formerly trained in Ireland by Noel Meade, makes her debut for the Balding stable in the Coral Distaff.
She may have only had the three races, but showed she was up to this standard by going down by only half a length to the O’Brien-trained Pink Dogwood in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan on the last of those 10 weeks ago.
“She had very good form in Ireland, albeit on much slower ground than she’s going to encounter at the weekend,” said Balding.
“It’s a question mark, but we’re happy with her. We think she’s a decent filly and hope she’d run well.”
Williams Haggas saddles Hidden Message, who was beaten less than two lengths when fourth to Obligate in the Group Two Prix Sandringham at Chantilly.
“She ran a really nice race in France last time, but was a bit sloppy early and didn’t really get into it,” said Haggas.
“I think this track will suit, but the thing she’s got to get right is before the race – during the race she’s fine, but she can lose the race beforehand.”
The Newmarket handler is pleased to get Mojito back on the track in the Coral Challenge following a 637-day absence.
“He’s a lovely horse, he’s been off a long time with an injury, but he’s been doing a lot of work for a long time now so is ready for a trip to the races,” said Haggas.
“He’s in good shape, but obviously it’s a big ask.”
David Menuisier’s History Writer, the Henry Candy-trained Greenside and Qaroun, for the Stoute team, are among the likely fancied runners in a fascinating mile handicap.