William Haggas concedes a mile is probably not My Prospero’s optimum trip as he returns to action in Saturday’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
Tom Marquand’s mount has won three of his six starts, including the Group Two Prix Eugene Adam at Saint-Cloud in July.
However, he has been twice unfortunate not to break his top-class duck, having been beaten a neck in the St James’s Palace over a mile at Royal Ascot and then on his return to the same track when a half-length third behind Bay Bridge in the 10-furlong Champion Stakes in October.
Haggas is convinced that while a Group One will fall his way sooner rather than later, it may not come at the eight-furlong trip he tackles this weekend, and his return to action will determine his Royal Ascot target next month.
“I hope he’s got a big season ahead of him,” said Haggas, who was triumphant 12 months ago with the magnificent Baaeed.
“I wanted very much to run him in the Paradise Stakes at Ascot, but his scope wasn’t very good.
“The reason I wanted to run there was to see if he was quick enough for the Queen Anne, or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. I’m pretty sure he’s Prince of Wales’s.
“So, having missed that, we are then a bit on the back foot, and it was either this or the Prix d’Ispahan (May 29), and I thought the d’Ispahan was a bit too close to Ascot for his first run, so we’re coming here.
“I’m pretty sure a mile is not his best trip, but he’s fresh and well and I think he’ll run a nice race.
“He is a good horse, but I think he’s more of a 10-furlong horse and I think he’ll end up in the Prince of Wales’s, but I think he deserves a crack at a Group One anyway.
“I don’t see the point in going for a lesser race at this stage now. The Paradise was right, but that didn’t happen, so there we go.”
Laurel was a late-maturing three-year-old, who did not race until July last year.
The John and Thady Gosden-trained daughter of Kingman looked a high-class filly in the making when she won two novice races over a mile before being beaten narrowly by Fonteyn in the Group One Sun Chariot on her third and final start.
She opened her four-year-old campaign with an easy Listed success on the all-weather at Kempton and as the only filly in the 13-strong line-up receives a 3lb allowance.
Barry Mahon, racing manager for owner Juddmonte, added: “Laurel is very unexposed. It’s a big jump up again into Group One company and taking on colts, but John and Thady are happy with her and it looked a nice fit for her on a nice track with good ground.
“Last year we threw her in the deep end after two easy wins and it looked for a minute like she was going to pull it off in big style.
“That day there was a little bit of bias towards the stands’ side and I think a combination of greenness and the other horse just getting a nice run up the rail saw her just get run out of it late on.
“Her comeback win at Kempton was good and blew away the cobwebs, and hopefully that will set her up to run a good race in this. She’s training nicely so we’re hopeful of a nice run.”
In a deep and open Lockinge, Jim Crowley will sport the same Shadwell silks the brilliant Baaeed carried to success.
He rides Mutasaabeq for Charlie Hills, whom he partnered to defeat Irish Guineas winner Native Trail on his return in the bet365 Mile at Newmarket earlier this month.
Shadwell’s racing manager Angus Gold said: “It was a nice performance last time. I was obviously really pleased with him and he did it under a penalty.
“Charlie has been really pleased with the way he has come out of the race and he’s looking fantastic.
“He has a good record at Newmarket, but there’s no obvious reason why he shouldn’t be just as effective at Newbury.
“The difference with him is that he appears to have matured a bit. On the evidence of that one run, his behaviour was much better and he appears to be a more relaxed horse.
“I don’t think Charlie feels he needs blinkers, as he never wears them at home, but they might help him concentrate a bit more. I don’t think he’d be afraid to take them off him as time goes by.
“Let’s hope he turns up in the same sort of form as he did at Newmarket, as it will take a good one to beat him.”
Last season’s Prix Jacques le Marois runner-up Light Infantry has three lengths to make up on Mutasaabeq on that run at Newmarket.
Trainer David Simcock said: “It was a satisfactory return. We got a bit of freshness out of him and we’re looking forward to Saturday.
“He’s proven he’s a Group One performer. He’s rated 119 and he’s a very decent horse. It is very open Lockinge – the betting suggests that – and I should think everybody thinks they’ve got a little shout, so it just shows how open it is.”
Ed Crisford, who co-trains Jadoomi with his father, Simon, is hoping the recent spell of dry weather breaks in time.
A Group Two winner at Goodwood and Leopardstown last season, he was last seen when a close-up third in the QEII at Ascot in October.
He said: “He’s in great order and we’re looking forward to it. We don’t want the ground to dry out too much for him, but he’s in really good form and I expect a big run from him. The way he’s training, I’m hopeful and there could be more to come from him, I’m sure.”
The Lockinge is one of the few big domestic races to have so far eluded Charlie Appleby, but in dual Breeders’ Cup hero Modern Games he has an obvious chance.
“Hopefully, this will be the opportunity for Modern Games to win a Group One in the UK,” the Moulton Paddocks trainer told the Godolphin website.
“We know that he is a crack miler and he goes here with the benefit of a run under his belt. Conditions at Newbury should suit, especially with the drying ground, and he is going to be a big player.”