Karl Burke is hoping Ascot avoids any heavy downpours to boost Lord Of The Lodge’s chance in the Jersey Stakes at the Royal meeting.
The North Yorkshire trainer has been pleased with the way the course has taken the odd shower and can see last season’s Gimcrack Stakes runner-up playing a big part in Thursday’s Group Three over seven furlongs.
Lord Of The Lodge has the benefit of a run at Newcastle in February under his belt – and although he won that day, Burke senses there was plenty to work on, and he is much happier with him now.
“I’m looking forward to running him, but I’d be disappointed if we got too much more rain. I’m hoping it will hold off,” he said.
“He’s proven on good, fast ground. I think he’ll handle a bit of cut, and he’s in great form.
“He’ll strip much fitter than he did at Newcastle in February. That was very much an afterthought. Rightly or wrongly we ran, but he was unfit that day. You will see a different horse, I hope.”
There will be strong opposition from the likes of John Gosden’s unbeaten King Leonidas and Roger Varian’s smart colt Molatham, while Aidan O’Brien is doubly-represented through King Of Athens and Monarch Of Egypt.
Connections of Fox Tal believe the lightly-raced four-year-old can build on his excellent run in last season’s Champion Stakes when he lines up for the Wolferton Stakes.
The Andrew Balding-trained colt was fourth to Magical, beaten only three and a quarter lengths in the mile-and-a-quarter Group One in October and returns to the Berkshire track for his reappearance.
He could have tried his luck in another Group One, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, but it was felt this Listed contest was the right option for his comeback.
“It was between this and the Prince of Wales’s. He’s a very exciting horse,” Alistair Donald, racing manager for owners King Power Racing, told Sky Sports Racing.
“A bit like Fox Chairman, he is lightly raced as he’s had a few niggles, and we’ve really looked after him. We’re hoping he can really come to fruition in Group One class this year. Potentially he could stay a mile and a half later.
“The rest of the season will depend on what happens at Ascot, but there are races like the Eclipse. I think the final goal will be the Champion Stakes, in which he ran such a great race last year as such an inexperienced horse.
O’Brien has a leading contender in last season’s impressive Chester Vase scorer Sir Dragonet – and Sir Michael Stoute gives Regal Reality, third to Enable in the Coral-Eclipse last year, his first run of the campaign.
Charlie Appleby took the Chesham Stakes 12 months ago with Pinatubo, who went on to be the champion two-year-old.
The Godolphin trainer looks to Modern News to give him back-to-back victories, after the son of Shamardal made a successful debut at Newmarket earlier this month.
Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “We were very pleased with Modern News on his first start and are confident that the step up to seven furlongs will hopefully see further improvement.
“He was very professional on his debut, and we feel that he heads into this race with all the right credentials.”
His rivals include lots of promising types, including Andrew Balding’s Bright Devil and the O’Brien-trained Battleground.