Austrian School and Making Miracles will clash for the fourth time this season as they both line up for Mark Johnston in the Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Grand Cup Stakes at York on Saturday.
Austrian School currently holds sway with two victories over his stable companion, but Making Miracles stepped up to the plate when the mud was flying to win the Chester Cup last month.
Making Miracles subsequently finished fourth to stablemate Dee Ex Bee in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, with Austrian School taking third in the Group Three and the reopposing Mekong, who is trained by Sir Michael Stoute, claiming second.
Charlie Johnston, assistant trainer to his father, believes the yard’s duo will be closely matched in the £50,000 prize this weekend, although he thinks the drop back to one mile and six furlongs will be more in favour of Austrian School.
He said: “I think trip-wise, coming back to a mile and six will probably suit Austrian School in particular.
“I think he has another gear that Making Miracles doesn’t have and maybe just a bit more class and speed – he showed plenty of the latter when he won at Musselburgh.”
Reflecting on his Sandown success, Johnston added: “Austrian School has a neck to find with Mekong on that form, but he’s quite versatile regarding ground.
“I expect him to go well and this is on the way to either the Northumberland Plate or the Curragh Cup at the end of the month.”
Making Miracles could also head to Newcastle in due course.
Johnston said: “We know Making Miracles stays very well and he, too, will be going onto the Northumberland Plate.
“There is some good prize-money to be picked up and I hope both of them will be in the shake up.”
A total of eight go to post for the £50,000 contest, with Raheen House an eyecatching contender as he makes his debut for William Haggas.
The £100,000 Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap is the highlight of the Knavesmire action, with the Johnston team set to send Blown By Wind into action.
He makes a swift return after finishing second at Newmarket last weekend.
Johnston said: “We were very pleased with his run at Newmarket and I think time will tell trying to give 11lb to Awe was a big ask.
“Unusually for one of ours, I think he’ll still come forward again, even from his second run.
“He had a long time off after getting injured in mid-summer last year and I think he went to Leicester first time at about 560 kilos – we wouldn’t send many horses to the races that heavy.
“He’s done really well from two to three and he’s a great big brute of a thing now.
“Obviously it was seven furlongs last week and James Doyle was very happy with him at that trip. But he did say afterwards he has enough speed to come back to six.”
A maximum field of 22 runners has been assembled for the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap, the most valuable prize on Macmillan Charity Raceday. First held in 1971, the annual event has raised over £8 million for the charity.