Spycatcher will try to take advantage of conditions at Doncaster when he lines up in the Betfred Park Stakes on Saturday.
Karl Burke’s five-year-old thrives when the mud flies and following a week of rain on Town Moor, he appears to have the perfect opportunity to continue his stellar 2023 campaign.
He is yet to finish outside the money in five starts this term and having made a successful trip to Deauville to claim the Prix de Ris-Orangis on his penultimate start, returned to the Normandy coast to run a career best when second in the Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Seven furlongs presents a different challenge for the son of Vadamos, but the Spigot Lodge handler is keen to strike while the iron is hot.
Burke said: “We wanted to really keep him at six and he is in the Renaissance Stakes the following week at the Curragh, but this doesn’t look the strongest Group Two in the world and the ground is in his favour.
“He seems in great form so I think we’ll let him take his chance. At this time of year the ground can change and you’d hate to miss Doncaster and then it turns up decent ground at the Curragh.”
John and Thady Gosden’s Audience claimed the Criterion Stakes on reappearance and then left a disappointing showing at Goodwood behind him when second to Kinross at York last month.
However, his below-par performance on the Sussex Downs came with ease in the ground and Chris Richardson, managing director for owners Cheveley Park Stud, once again has slight reservations about conditions.
He said: “He came out of York really well but my only concern would be the ground I suppose, because all of his best efforts have been on good ground. He ran poorly at Goodwood on softish ground, so hopefully we get a drying scenario.
“It’s a trappy race and obviously Karl Burke’s horses are flying. But we deserve to be in there and John has been happy with him.
“If he had been allowed to race on his own at York rather than in a group, then he might have gone a bit closer, but he definitely has the ability as we saw.”
The son of Iffraaj somewhat lost his way at three, but has been revitalised since being gelded and connections are delighted he has now started to give a glimpse of his true ability this season.
Richardson added: “I think gelding him has made all the difference. We always knew the ability was there, it was just a question of making him concentrate on what he needed to do rather than other things.
“It wouldn’t normally have been our plan to geld a horse of this quality, but he just made it a challenge last year. It’s nice he’s back on track now and fulfilling his potential.”
Andrew Balding’s Sandrine was not far behind Audience when third in the City Of York Stakes and excels over this distance, while Bunbury Cup scorer Biggles represents last year’s winning stable in his first outing in stakes company.
Eve Johnson Houghton’s Jumby and Charlie Hills’ Pogo complete the select field of six.