Al Aasy is the star name among nine confirmations for the Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday.
Hugely impressive in winning his first two starts of the season at Newbury, the William Haggas-trained four-year-old was a hot favourite to successfully graduate to Group One level in the Coronation Cup at Epsom last month, but was beaten a neck by the popular Pyledriver.
Connections of Al Aasy have already identified the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 24 as his main midsummer target and a decision is pending on whether he will first contest the Group Two feature on the opening day of Newmarket’s July Festival.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate, said: “We have left both Al Aasy and Hukum in in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes and we’ll see what happens over the next few days.
“With Hukum we were always intending to come here and Al Aasy is certainly a possible. Obviously the main aim with Al Aasy is the King George and I spoke to William at the beginning of this week and he said he was going to give him a bit of work and monitor him.
“If he’s fresh and bouncing and he feels he needs another run before Ascot, we have the option of running at Newmarket, but if he feels he’d be better going straight to Ascot then we will do that.”
If Al Aasy does sidestep Newmarket, Owen Burrows’ Hukum appears a more than able deputy judged on his third-placed finish in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“I think Hukum has earned his spot there – that’s an obvious sort of place for him,” Gold added.
Haggas has a potential second string to his bow in Ilaraab, while Sir Michael Stoute’s Highest Ground and the Mark Johnston-trained Sir Ron Priestley also feature, together with Bangkok from Andrew Balding’s yard.
The first Pattern race on the opening day of the three-day meeting is the Group Three Bahrain Trophy, in which the Shadwell colours could be carried by the unbeaten Mandoob.
The Farhh gelding has won each of his two starts for Brian Meehan and ground conditions on the July course will decide whether he steps up in grade for the hat-trick bid.
Gold said: “This is certainly the plan, but I know he’s a horse who would certainly want good or easier ground, so it depends on the weather between now and then.
“He’s nice horse and a progressive horse, but he wouldn’t run if it was good to firm.”
Mandoob’s potential rivals include Johnston’s Gear Up, Charlie Appleby’s Yibir and Stowell from John and Thady Gosden’s yard.
Group Two honours are up for grabs in the Tattersalls July Stakes, which has attracted 15 juveniles.
Bryan Smart’s Project Dante just about sets the standard after finishing a close-up third behind Perfect Power and subsequent winner Go Bears Go in the Norfolk Stakes at the Royal meeting, while Shadwell could be represented by Johnston-trained York winner Jadhlaan.
“He is certainly a possible, which is why we put him in,” said Gold.
“I always felt this horse would love to go six furlongs and Mark rather agreed with me, (but) Franny (Norton) rode him the other day and said he actually thought he had plenty of speed for five.
“It would give us more options if he can go six furlongs, so we said we’d put him in and see how he is.”
The colours of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum are also well represented in the Listed Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes, with both Baaeed (Haggas) and Mostahdaf (Gosden) in contention.
Baaeed followed up a debut victory at Leicester with a dominant display over this course and distance last month, while Mostahdaf lost his unbeaten record when finishing down the field in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Gold added: “Baaeed is an exciting horse, hopefully. He’s Hukum’s brother and at this stage looks to have a bit more speed than Hukum.
“His whole career is hopefully ahead of him. He’s come out twice now and won really impressively both times, so the plan was always to go here with him.
“With Mostahdaf, the plan after Ascot was to step him up to a mile and a quarter. John (Gosden) wanted to go for the Prix Eugene Adam in France, but it’s so complicated at the moment getting horses and jockeys and staff to France – the whole thing is a bit of a nightmare.
“As I understand it, there are very few options for three-year-olds only over a mile and a quarter, so we decided we’d put him in here and then see what options there are.”