Sir Michael Stoute admits he is “hopeful” about the chances of Mustashry securing a second Group One win in Tuesday’s Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The mile event kicks off the four-day meeting in Berkshire and an open field of 16 is set to go to post.
Mustashry, kept in training as a six-year-old, finally landed a first top-level win last time out in the Lockinge, with several who finished behind him at Newbury taking him on again.
“I was thrilled with him in the Lockinge and his preparations have gone fine,” said Stoute.
“He is impervious to ground conditions which is very handy, and we are hopeful.”
Owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s racing manager Angus Gold added: “It surprised me how easily he won the Lockinge.
“He’s had so many niggling problems down the years. Some don’t come back from that mentally, but he’s got the right attitude. He’s a fine, big horse and some of those (problems) might have been down to immaturity.
“Sir Michael’s team weren’t as surprised as I was and they see him every day. If he runs to that level again he’s the one to beat, but it was Laurens’ first run and there are other good horses in there.”
Karl Burke’s Laurens was a star against her own sex and age last season, but in two runs against the boys, she has so far failed to win.
However, she was making her seasonal debut in the Lockinge and was just over two lengths behind Mustashry in second.
Her jockey PJ McDonald is searching for a first Royal winner in the first of eight Qipco British Champions Series races run this week.
“She’s come out of the Lockinge well and we couldn’t be much happier going into the race. She looks amazing, feels amazing and is going into Ascot as well, if not better, than when she has gone into any of her previous races,” said McDonald.
“It’s very competitive and she’s taking on the boys again. She will have to find a bit with Sir Michael Stoute’s horse (Mustashry) and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him improve again – he’s trained by an absolute genius – but I’d be very confident our filly will improve from the Lockinge.
“She was fit enough to go and have her run, but there is only so much you can do with them at home and she finds her work so easy that she’s never really in the red zone. There is nothing that can take her there or lead her there.”
Andre Fabre won the Jersey Stakes with Le Brivido, who just got caught out of his ground when the pace quickened at Newbury and ran on well into fifth for Aidan O’Brien.
“Le Brivido ran a very good race in the Lockinge, Ryan (Moore) just said that he got caught up in traffic at a bad time when the race was just getting going,” said O’Brien.
“We felt he ran a very good race and we’ve been very happy with him since then.”
Dermot Weld’s Hazapour ran in the Derby last year, but looked much happier dropped in trip at Leopardstown last time out.
“I rode him in the Derby last year and it was obvious he didn’t stay. Bringing him back to the mile looks to have helped,” said big-race rider Frankie Dettori.
Weld added: “I’m very happy with him. He’s in great order and loves a cut in the ground.”
Eve Johnson Houghton’s Accidental Agent was a surprise winner last year and finished third in the Lockinge on his return.
“I think he’s in great form this time – I’m really pleased with him,” she said.
“He’s had problems. We thought we’d sorted them all out, but I knew he’d need the run in the Lockinge, so I was really pleased with the way he ran – considering he’d need it.”
Barney Roy won the St James’s Palace Stakes for Richard Hannon two years ago and after a failed spell at stud is now with Charlie Appleby, winning last time out.
“Barney Roy is a past winner at Royal Ascot and we were delighted with his latest performance in France,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.
“Getting his head back in front was definitely a confidence booster and he goes into this race in as good a shape as we have seen him since he arrived at Moulton Paddocks.
“He is bouncing around the place at home and we hope that he can be a major player in what looks like an open mile division.”
Appleby also runs Mythical Magic.