Cowell has reason to be optimistic as sprint pair take on Dragon Symbol

Atalis Bay and Clarendon House give Robert Cowell a strong hand in his bid for a second victory in the Betfred Nifty Fifty Achilles Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.

It is seven years since the Newmarket trainer saddled popular veteran Kingsgate Native to land the Listed prize – and while last season’s Commonwealth Cup and July Cup runner-up Dragon Symbol sets a lofty standard, Cowell has high hopes of doubling his tally on Merseyside this weekend.

He said: “Both of our horses are in good order and they’ll be trying their best.

“Dragon Symbol needs to bounce back from a disappointing run at York. If he does I’m sure he’ll take all the beating, but if not, hopefully we’ll be picking up the pieces.”

Having won five times for Marco Botti, including a victory over this course and distance, Atalis Bay changed hands for 130,000 guineas in October and made his debut for his new connections in the Palace House at Newmarket in April.

After showing plenty of early dash, the four-year-old weakened into ninth place, but Cowell expects him to improve for the run.

“Atalis Bay just needed his run in the Palace House and he’s in really good form and doesn’t mind a bit of cut in the ground from what we can see,” the trainer added.

“Newmarket is probably not the ideal track for him with the uphill finish and a sharp track like Haydock should suit him much better.”

Atalis Bay is one of two runners for Cowell and owners Middleham Park Racing along with four-time winner Clarendon House, who was last seen finishing fourth in a Group Three in Paris a fortnight ago.

Cowell added: “Clarendon House missed the break the other day in France and would have been a lot closer if that hadn’t happened.

“We’re hoping he’s this level and maybe in time he might get better. He’s quite a nice, progressive sprinter.”

Few would begrudge Dragon Symbol a big-race success after finishing second four times at Pattern level last season in all, as well as placing third in the Nunthorpe.

Dragon Symbol (right) in action at Royal Ascot
Dragon Symbol (right) in action at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

But having moved from Archie Watson’s yard to join Roger Varian during the off-season, he failed to fire on his reappearance in the Duke of York Stakes and heads for Haydock with something to prove.

Varian said: “He’s come out of his run at York well and he’s worked nicely, so he’s ready to run again.

“We were disappointed at York but we can’t find a reason for it – perhaps he just ran a bit fresh and needed it. He looks in good shape, so hopefully we can get back on track on Saturday.

“It looks a good opportunity on paper and he should cope with the ground and the drop back to five furlongs, so we’re looking forward to running him again.”

Raasel leads the way at Nottingham
Raasel leads the way at Nottingham (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Mick Appleby has declared Raasel and outsider King Of Stars.

Raasel touched off Clarendon Street when winning at Goodwood in April before finishing second at York’s Dante Festival.

“Raasel is holding his form well and hopefully he’ll run a good race,” said Appleby.

“If there’s a bit of cut in the ground that shouldn’t worry him too much, but it would probably go against King Of Stars.”

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