Roger Varian considers Bayside Boy to hold a “strong chance” in the Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood on Friday.
A select field of seven line up for the Group Three contest over a mile, with last season’s Champagne Stakes winner Bayside Boy bidding to back up a fine run in the St James’s Palace Stakes, when two lengths behind 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus.
The Newmarket handler was pleased with that outing, coming on the back of a muddling seasonal debut in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp.
Varian said: “He ran well at Ascot in the St James’s Palace, which is proving to be a strong piece of form and there is plenty to take from the race.
“We would look at that race as his first proper race of the season – the French Guineas was a bit of a non-event, so we think that piece of form at Ascot would present him with a strong chance in this race.
“He didn’t have the smoothest of passages at Ascot and then finished his race off very strongly. He’s got very good two-year-old form and we’re looking forward to getting back on track with him.”
Bayside Boy renews rivalry with Andrew Balding’s Coventry winner Berkshire Shadow, who finished a neck in front of him in the St James’s Palace before finishing third in a Listed contest tat Newmarket.
There is plenty of international interest, with Norsk 2000 Guineas winner Hotline Bling in contention for Brazilian-born Norwegian trainer Raphael Freire and Germany’s Peter Schiergen responsible for Rocchigiani, who was runner-up to Maljoom in the German 2000 Guineas before going down in trip to run Noble Truth close in the Jersey at Royal Ascot.
William Knight insists Checkandchallenge, who made up plenty of ground late on to get within three-quarters of a length of Sinjaari in the valuable Coral Challenge handicap at Sandown on his previous outing, is ready for a step back up in class.
The Newmarket handler said: “He has come out of that Sandown race well. He did a nice bit of work on Saturday morning.
“I think the race looks good, a small field could suit him and as long as he handles the track, I think he will run a big race.
“We sweetened him up after a break and he goes into it in good order. He looks really well and I think he’ll go very close.”
A strapping son of Galileo Gold, The Wizard Of Eye has been highly tried by trainer Stan Moore, who says he is no back number after having excuses when fifth in the German Guineas.
“The horse is in good form and we are hoping for a nice run,” said Moore.
“He has had big asks. In the German Guineas he was taken out of it in the first furlong. He got a nice position and another horse came across him and took about three horses out. He was unlucky to be out the frame.
“He hasn’t run for a while because he is 17.1 hands. He ran in February and we are hoping to go to a couple of places in the winter with him. You have to skip some of the season if you want to do a bit in the winter.
“He will go to France later in the year and if his rating came up and we got an invite to Saudi again you would go there because he proved in the Saudi Derby that he handles the dirt over there, or Dubai.”
The Charlie Hills-trained Sonny Liston, who is having his first run since finishing 15th of 17 in Desert Crown’s Derby, completes the line-up.
The other Group Three contest is the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Glorious Stakes, run over a mile and a half, which has attracted a field of nine.
Charlie Appleby seeks to win the prize for the first time and saddles a trio, headed by UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance, who last month took the Listed Fred Archer at Newmarket on his first run back following a break of over four months.
Appleby, who also runs Global Storm and Kemari, said on the Godolphin website: “Rebel’s Romance worked very well at the weekend. The track might be against him as he is a big-striding, good-moving type of horse, but he’s in great order and has come forward for his last run, which was his only run on turf to date. He’s come out of that in great shape and there is further improvement to come.
“Kemari will be competitive if he produces his last run at Newmarket, which was creditable.”
Sir Michael Stoute, who has won this race six times, including three of the last six renewals, relies on Sandown’s Gala Stakes runner-up Regal Reality, while Max Vega concedes 3lb to his rivals after winning the Group Three John Porter at Newbury on his seasonal bow for Ralph Beckett.
Meanwhile, Richard Hannon is looking ahead to stepping Fancy Man up in trip after this, following his close-up fifth to Get Shirty in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock.
That run came on soft ground, yet the East Everleigh handler insists all conditions come the same to the four-year-old, who has the valuable Ebor Handicap at York in his sights.
Hannon said: “We were very pleased with his last run at Haydock and we are thinking about the Ebor, so this looks a nice race for him pre-Ebor.
“He had a three-month break prior to his last run and that sweetened him up. Ground-wise he’s fine and has run well on good to firm before.”