Hot favourite Ghaiyyath is one of 14 entries for the Juddmonte International at York.
The five-year-old has enjoyed a faultless campaign thus far – streaking clear of his rivals in a Group Three at Meydan in February before returning to Britain to claim top-level honours in both the Coronation Cup at Newmarket and the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
Charlie Appleby has been delighted with his charge since the latter of those victories, over the brilliant Enable, and is looking forward to seeing him bid for a Group One hat-trick on the Knavesmire next week.
“We’re in good shape. This year has been a great year for him, winning the Coronation and the Coral-Eclipse, and it was always our plan to head for the Juddmonte International thereafter,” the trainer told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.
“His preparation has gone well to date. He looks great and is giving us all the right signs.
“He had an easy piece of work yesterday (Wednesday), and everyone was very pleased. He’ll work again on Saturday and hopefully if he ticks the box there, we’ll be all set for next Wednesday.”
Appleby is in no doubt Ghaiyyath is the best middle-distance horse he has trained, putting him above his 2018 Derby hero Masar.
He added: “He’s more of a finished article now. His post-race condition is a lot stronger this year than it has been in the past. There’s no doubt we’re talking about a different animal than we were dealing with over his two, three and four-year-old career.
“I was very lucky to have Masar win the Derby and have Hawkbill and horses like that. Ghaiyyath has always been one of those horses that excites you in the morning – he’s such an extravagant galloper and great mover, and he’s delivered in the afternoons.
“He’s a horse we’ve had to handle with care – but where he stands now and what he’s achieved to date, he’d definitely be the best middle-distance horse I’ve ever handled.”
The Newmarket trainer is confident about Ghaiyyath’s chances at York, saying: “In Group One races I fear all of them – but if this horse is on-song on the day, I feel he’s the one they’ve all got to beat.”
Aidan O’Brien has six potential contenders, headed by last year’s winner Japan and the top-class mare Magical. Anthony Van Dyck, Armory, Magic Wand and Sir Dragonet complete the Ballydoyle sextet.
John Gosden is set to saddle the impressive Prince of Wales’s Stakes scorer Lord North. The Clarehaven handler has also entered French Derby hero Mishriff and the St James’s Palace winner Palace Pier, although that pair are set to contest races in France this weekend.
Andrew Balding’s 2000 Guineas victor Kameko will run over 10 furlongs for the first time, after finishing fourth in the Derby over a mile and a half and fourth in the Sussex Stakes back at a mile since his Classic triumph.
Roger Charlton’s York Stakes winner Aspetar, Saeed bin Suroor’s stable star Benbatl and the Mark Johnston-trained Rose Of Kildare complete the hopefuls for what promises to be a fascinating contest.