Veteran sprinter Alpha Delphini returns to the scene of his finest hour for the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes at York on Saturday.
It will be two years in August since Bryan Smart’s charge claimed victory in a thrilling renewal of the Nunthorpe on the Knavesmire – grabbing Group One glory by a nose from the Michael Dods-trained Mabs Cross.
Alpha Delphini has only made two competitive appearances since – and has been off the track since chasing home the brilliant Battaash in the Temple Stakes at Haydock in May of last year.
The son of Captain Gerrard is very much in the twilight of his career at the age of nine, but Smart is pleased with his condition.
“He’s as well as we could expect after a long time off,” said the Sutton Bank handler.
“I’m very happy with him, he looks well and is in good form.
“We know he likes York, obviously. He deserves to have a crack at it.”
At the other end of the age scale is the Dods-trained four-year-old filly Que Amoro.
Twice a winner at York last season, the daughter of Es Que Love looked better than ever when making a successful return to action in a Listed event at Ayr last month.
Dods said: “It’s a tough-looking race, but it should be nice, fastish ground and she’s run well there, so it’s the race to go for with it being hard to find races at the minute.
“She seems in good form, so I’m sure she’ll run well.”
John Quinn’s speedball El Astronaute also has a couple of wins on the Knavesmire to his credit and is back once more after showing the fire still burns brightly on his reappearance when winning at Doncaster.
“He’s very well. I’m very happy with him, so I’m hoping for a good run,” said Quinn.
The Charlie Hills-trained Equilateral drops in class after finishing ninth in last week’s July Cup at Newmarket.
Major Jumbo (Kevin Ryan), Moss Gill (James Bethell), Al Raya (Simon and Ed Crisford), Tarboosh (Paul Midgley) and Aberama Gold (Keith Dalgleish) complete the line-up.
Just five runners are set to go to post for the Group Three John Smith’s Silver Cup.
The standard is set by Communique, who turns out nine days after finishing second when bidding for a second win in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket.
Mark Johnston’s charge is taken on by Eagles By Day, having his first run for David O’Meara, Moonlight Spirit (Charlie Appleby), Ranch Hand (Balding) and Universal Order (David Simcock).