Sylvester Kirk can look forward to stable stalwart Salouen flying the flag for his Lambourn yard again this year.
The six-year-old has performed with great credit in a host of big races over the last few years, pushing Cracksman to a head in the Coronation Cup in 2018 and finishing third to Defoe in the Epsom showpiece 12 months ago.
He was also beaten less than four lengths when sixth in Enable’s second Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, where he might even have been a place or two closer with a bit better luck in running.
The son of Canford Cliffs was last seen in the Irish St Leger at the Curragh in September.
Kirk said: “He’s had time off from his injury, he’s recovered well and basically been started back the last five or six weeks, slow away and slow build up. All’s good with him.
“I was amazed to find the ground was as quick as it was in the Irish Leger, it was just a bit too firm for him. It wasn’t anything desperately bad, we just left him alone and put him away for the year.
“There’s no rush, it’s been a bonus as far as he’s concerned having that extra little bit of time. It’s just a case of finding the right ground for him and minding him – his best performances have been on softer ground. That was the key to his big run when he finished second to Cracksman.
“It’s a case of when he’s ready and finding something, rather than forcing him into something coming back from an injury.”
On keeping his string ready to run when racing resumes, Kirk added: “That’s the tricky part, to keep them ticking over but doing enough that you are ready to go. It’s not straightforward.
“But the lads are enjoying it, getting out and riding the horses out. The good weather the last couple of weeks has been nice and it’s one of the industries where you can (do social distancing) without too much trouble. In single file you are two metres away anyway.
“It’s one of the things that can be policed better than most. We have to try desperately hard to get racing going and come up with a sensible plan and structure to keep everyone safe.
“One of the biggest things will be sorting out who runs, who doesn’t, what the racecards are going to be, is it all going to be better quality stuff? A lot of people have kept their horses at the lower end.
“I know there’s a greater need for the industry itself, for the Pattern horses and that end of the market. That’s going to be a tricky one, if we do get going just what will they put on.”