James Tate feels he can explore more avenues this season with Hey Gaman.
With most of the five-year-old’s best form last year coming on a quicker surface, the Newmarket handler believes soft ground is no longer a necessity for the son of New Approach.
Having struck gold at Listed and Group Three level on his first two starts last year, Hey Gaman signed off the campaign with a solid run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.
He said: “Hey Gaman looks better than ever and he did a really nice piece of work on the grass not too long ago.
“We used to send him abroad a lot as a three-year-old to get the cut in the ground, but that has become less of an issue.
“We did learn last year that he changed from wanting soft ground to preferring it a bit quicker.”
Despite coming up short in both Group One and Two company, Tate hopes Hey Gaman can make the jump in grade this campaign.
He added: “He went too fast in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but he still ran pretty well.
“In the Lennox he was beaten by a good horse around there in Sir Dancealot and in the Minstrel he was beaten by Romanised, who won a Group One afterwards.
“He looks bigger and stronger as a five-year-old, so hopefully he will step forward and we will crack on in Pattern races over seven furlongs and over a mile around a bend, as a straight mile is too far.”
With stable star Invincible Army now retired, Tate believes Listed scorer Far Above could be a ready-made replacement to aim at the top sprint races.
He said: “Far Above is by far the fastest horse I’ve trained. We wanted to run him on grass first time last year and though he won over seven furlongs at Newmarket, he didn’t really get it and he showed that in a Listed race back there.
“He won a novice race over six in a canter and then a Listed race over the trip in France. I plan to drop him back to five furlongs this year and I do think he will be very good.
“The Temple Stakes would be my preferred target, if it is on, then hopefully the King’s Stand Stakes. As a four-year-old he looks an absolute beast.”
Tate expects Top Rank, who is unbeaten in three starts, to continue his progression.
He said: “Top Rank is three from three and I think he is a Group horse with a handicap rating.
“I wanted to go for the Lincoln, then when that was off I thought about the Irish Lincolnshire, but that was a no-go as well.
“I’m not saying he is Group One horse, but he a Group horse of sorts.”