Exciting young colt Calyx is the star attraction as he warms up for the Commonwealth Cup in the Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.
The John Gosden-trained three-year-old is already a warm order for the six-furlong Group One at Royal Ascot, after blitzing the opposition in the Pavilion Stakes at the Berkshire track on his comeback outing at the beginning of May.
He had been off the course since running out a convincing winner of the Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting last June.
“We always wanted to go there (Haydock). It is an awful long time from the Pavilion to the Commonwealth. It is nicely set in the programme,” said Gosden.
“He is in good form and I hope the ground is not too fast for him.
“He is in good form and needs to race – he has only run three times in his whole career, so the more experience of racing he gets, the better.”
Calyx may only have three rivals – but all have decent form at Group level.
Kevin Ryan’s Hello Youmzain was a Group Two winner as a two-year-old, landing the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte on October.
The Kodiac colt was sent off 5-2 favourite for the Greenham Stakes on his seasonal debut, on his first try over seven furlongs, but had to settle for fourth place after holding every chance.
“He’s in good form. It’s obviously a tough race, but we’re happy with him going into the race,” said Ryan.
Royal Intervention was a Listed scorer at Newmarket last summer and was second in the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot in July.
She was injured that day and only returned to action three weeks ago, finishing fourth in a Listed contest at Chelmsford.
Her trainer Ed Walker was pleased with that run and is hoping she can boost her claims for the Commonwealth Cup.
“It is a big ask for Royal Intervention on ratings, but we know she is very good, as she showed when winning a Listed race by almost five lengths last year,” said Walker.
“Unfortunately, she picked up an injury when she was just beaten by Angel’s Hideaway.
“I don’t think we saw the best of her at Chelmsford. The track probably wasn’t ideal and we knew she was a bit short, but she has come on plenty for that and will be better on grass.
“She is already a Listed winner so in terms of her pedigree going for the Sandy Lane makes sense.
“Like everybody else, we are working back from the Commonwealth Cup and it will be interesting to run against some of those horses on Saturday.
“There is nothing to lose as she only has to beat one horse to get Group Two black type, which is obviously important for a well-bred filly.”
The other horse taking on Calyx is Karl Burke’s True Mason, who has third in the Group Three Prix Sigy on his reappearance at Chantilly last month.
The son of Mayson was third to Pretty Pollyanna in the Group One Prix Morny last summer, and was also placed in two Group Twos.
“He goes there in good form. He won his maiden on very quick ground on Nottingham, but like a lot of Maysons I’m sure he’d prefer a bit of easier ground, but we won’t use that as an excuse,” said Burke.
“It was always going to cut up with Calyx being declared to go there. I’m happy for him to take his chance and I’m sure he’ll run well.
“He didn’t run his race at Chantilly. He’s a lot better than that bare form.
“He’s got a visor on for the first time and he’s worked very well in it, so we’ll see what happens.”