Saeed bin Suroor believes the progressive Land Of Legends can make his presence felt in the Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot.
The Newmarket trainer has been delighted with the improvement made by the lightly-raced son of Iffraaj in such a short time.
Godolphin’s three-year-old colt made his debut only in April when he ran the more experienced King Of Comedy to three-quarters of a length.
That horse has gone on to Listed success, finished second in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes and is a leading fancy for the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next week.
A more softly-softly approach has been taken with Land Of Legends, but he has not stood still and has won his last two races at Kempton and Newmarket.
The time has come for him to take his toughest test to date on Saturday, in one of the hottest handicaps in the calendar on just his fifth start.
Bin Suroor said: “He’s doing well. I’m happy with him. He’s working really well – he came back well from his last race and has worked nicely on the watered gallop.
“He is showing he has improved, and he is still improving.
“I would like to see him handy and get a clear run. There are many runners, and I would like to see him close up.
“He’s a strong horse and he came back well from last time. He looks good and is in good condition.”
Middleham Park Racing lifted this valuable prize with Burnt Sugar 12 months ago, and are praying the ground is not too firm for the seven-year-old – yet to hit form this season – to defend his title.
The successful syndicate also has a big hope in Burnt Sugar’s Roger Fell-trained stablemate Admirality – who was beaten just a length in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket and then fourth when dropped down to six furlongs at Hamilton last week.
Middleham spokesman Mike Prince said: “He ran a decent race in the Bunbury Cup. We’ve got Oisin Murphy on, perhaps trying to get a more patient ride.
“He probably hit the front a bit early at York, and again at Newmarket, (so we may) try to bring him with a late run.
“That’s the plan with him, but he’s in great form. He could run well and is weighted to drop on one of these big races.”
Burnt Sugar struggled with the ground when defending his Bunbury crown and finished last.
Prince added: “The ground was too quick for him at Newmarket. We’ve declared him, but we are just a bit worried it might be a bit too quick again.
“There are some thunderstorms in the forecast, and if they come and take the sting out of the ground he’ll run. If Roger feels it’s too quick then he may not go.
“He’s not quite been in the same form as he was last year and he’s been bit a higher in the handicap. He’s a valiant old boy and he owes us nothing.
“Admirality won’t mind what ground it is, but Burnt Sugar needs the sting taken out.”
Arbalet was runner-up to Burnt Sugar 12 months ago, and his trainer Hugo Palmer reports that – after a sluggish start to the campaign – he is approaching his peak.
“He’s in good nick. He’s 3lb lower than when he was second in the race last year as a three-year-old,” said Palmer.
“He took a few runs to get his act together last year, and he’s done the same this year, but we’re happy with him going into the race.”
Rod Millman expects the straight mile will help Prince Of Harts in the Porsche Handicap.
The Dalakhani gelding was a never-nearer third to Red Armada over the round mile two weeks ago – suggesting he may be better suited by a straight course and the stiffer task it brings.
“I think the horse will improve when he goes over longer distances,” said the Devon trainer.
“He should be in a nice position, and the straight mile is more of a stamina test.
“We’re under no illusions it will be a competitive race.
“He’s a good horse. Normally I like to have the higher weights in these races, but we’ve got a good jockey booked (Hollie Doyle) and I’m hopeful of a good run.”
Connections of Flashcard hope their horse will also enjoy the track, and they too report some rain would help.
“I think Ascot will suit him better than Newmarket did in his last race,” said Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds.
“A bit of rain wouldn’t harm his chances.”