Last year’s winner Royal Intervention returns to defend her crown in the William Hill Summer Fillies’ Stakes at York on Sunday.
The daughter of Exceed And Excel carried the colours of Lord Lloyd-Webber to a couple of notable triumphs in 2019 – landing this Group Three prize 12 months ago before travelling to Germany to win a Group Two.
However, Ed Walker’s charge is back on the Knavesmire with something to prove, having disappointed in Saudi Arabia in February and again failing to fire in a Listed contest at Haydock last month.
“Royal Intervention has been disappointing in two runs this year. I’m a bit shocked, to be honest, as I sort of thought whatever she did last year as three-year-old would be a bonus and she would improve this season, but she’s done the opposite,” said Walker.
“You can put a line through her last run at Haydock as the ground was too soft for her and I’m not sure what happened in Saudi – she missed the break for the first time in her life and could never get into it after that.
“She’s a very talented filly and we just want to see her bounce back to her best. The only thing missing from her CV is some Group One black type, so we’re hoping she can get back on track on Sunday and we can then pitch her in at the deep end again.”
Walker has an interesting second string to his bow in Sunday Star, who made a more encouraging start to 2020 when third in a Listed event at Newbury four weeks ago.
“Sunday Star did well as a two-year-old and didn’t fire at three, but I think she’s better than she’s ever been right now,” Walker added.
“She ran a good race on her first start back at Newbury and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she went and won at York.
“I’d imagine Royal Intervention will go forward, so Sunday Star should get a nice tow into it and could come with a wet sail.”
John Quinn saddles the three-year-old Keep Busy, who was last seen chasing home top-class prospect Art Power in a handicap at Royal Ascot.
Quinn said: “She’s very tough – she doesn’t know how to run a bad race.
“Her last two runs were very good. I’m very happy with her and we’re going to give it a whirl.”
Sir Michael Stoute’s Jovial and the Sir Mark Prescott-trained Miss Celestial also feature among 19 declared runners.
Charlie Appleby’s Boccaccio puts his unbeaten record on the line in the William Hill King Charles II Stakes.
Victorious at Yarmouth and Kempton at two, the Dubawi colt completed his hat-trick with a short-head verdict on his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket three weeks ago.
He is set to face eight rivals at Listed level this weekend, with the standard set by Richard Fahey’s Ventura Rebel and the Charlie Hills-trained Royal Commando, who were separated by just a head when third and fourth respectively in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Additional is an outsider for Martyn Meade. The runaway Lingfield runner turns out just seven days after finishing last of eight runners behind the top-class Earthlight in France.
“He didn’t really have a run at Deauville – that was the problem. The saddle slipped and the jockey couldn’t do anything about it. All he could do was try to keep the partnership intact, so it was a disappointing day all round,” said Meade.
“Hopefully, we’ll see the proper horse appear after what happened at Deauville.”
Perhaps the most interesting horse on the undercard is the Richard Hughes-trained Brentford Hope, who made a huge impression on debut at Newmarket last October and makes his first start since in the williamhill.com Best Odds Guaranteed Novice Stakes under Jamie Spencer.