Last year’s winner Addeybb, Derby and King George hero Adayar and the brilliant Mishriff are among 14 confirmations for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
The William Haggas-trained Addeybb bagged his first Group One victory on home soil in the Champions Day feature 12 months ago, but has made just three appearances since.
The seven-year-old returned to Australia to defend both the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Randwick, having to make do with the runner-up spot in the former event but successfully defending his QEII crown.
Addeybb made a promising return from a break when splitting St Mark’s Basilica and Mishriff in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in early July, but has missed multiple engagements since due to unsuitable ground conditions.
Tom Marquand will be on board and told Sky Sports Racing: “Whether the ground will be quite in his favour – I can’t see how it will dry out too much at this time of year as the dew in the morning keeps the moisture in.
“I was informed the other day he galloped very well, but I don’t get near him too often at home as he’s not usually the best work horse and William likes me to keep my confidence in him by riding him in races instead!
“It sounds like he’s in great form and everyone is happy. There are no chinks in his armour, he’s danced every dance and been to the other side of the world a couple of times and proved himself here in the Champion last year.”
Haggas, who will be praying for as much as rain as possible ahead of his bid for back-to-back Champion Stakes triumphs this weekend, reports Addeybb to be in “as good a shape as we could possibly have him.”
He said: “We are very pleased with Addeybb’s condition. We’d like rain for him, and the more the better, but it doesn’t look as if we are going to get it. I’d be surprised if it was quick ground though, as it was so wet there at the last meeting, and he’ll run.
“I’d have loved him to have had a run, as it’s a top, top race, but he goes well fresh and he can win off a lay-off. His last two weeks have been really good.”
The Somerville Lodge handler looks set to launch a three-pronged assault, with Al Aasy and the supplemented Dubai Honour also in the mix.
Connections of Dubai Honour have stumped up the required £75,000 to add him to the field off the back of his impressive display in the Prix Dollar at ParisLongchamp on Arc weekend.
“Dubai Honour is a nice young horse who has won two Group Twos. He’s doing very well physically and he’s a pretty useful horse,” Haggas added.
“This will be a big rise in class for him, but we’ve got nothing to lose. I’m running Al Aasy too, and he’s not without hope, dropping back in trip. Everyone questions him bar me, but he’s a very, very talented horse.”
Charlie Appleby confirmed over the weekend that Adayar would be left in the Champion Stakes at the confirmation stage, with a final decision on his participation to be made later in the week.
If the three-year-old does take his chance, he will be turning out just 13 days after finishing fourth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The marginal favourite with most bookmakers is John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff, who has been saved for this race since his dominant display in the Juddmonte International at York in August.
The Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic winner had previously finished third in the Eclipse and runner-up to Adayar in the King George.
Gosden said: “We’ve been happy with Mishriff since York and we are looking forward to running him again.
“It’s always one race at a time, but we wanted to space his races in case we go on to run later in the year, possibly at the Breeders’ Cup.
“It looks like being a good race and we should get better ground than last year, when he really didn’t like it. He can handle soft, but last year it became specialists’ ground. Full marks to all of the winners that day, but it’s hard to quicken on that stuff.”
Aidan O’Brien has left in Love, Bolshoi Ballet and Snowfall, with Jim Bolger’s Mac Swiney and the Noel Meade-trained Helvic Dream the other Irish contenders.
Cedric Rossi’s Arc fifth Sealiway could represent France.
Euchen Glen (Jim Goldie), Lady Bowthorpe (William Jarvis) and Foxes Tales (Andrew Balding) are the other hopefuls.