Reach For The Moon bids to confirm his top-level potential with victory in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.
Runner-up on his racecourse debut at Yarmouth in the spring, the Sea The Stars colt came close to providing the Queen with a Royal Ascot winner in June when pushing star Irish juvenile Point Lonsdale close in the Chesham Stakes.
John and Thady Gosden’s youngster has since impressed in winning a novice event at Newbury and the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown – and jockey Frankie Dettori is excited to see the colt test his powers at Group Two level on Saturday.
“In the last two races he hardly saw a horse, so this is the first big test,” said the Italian.
“We’re building him up, he’s getting more experience and he’s done nothing wrong so far.
“This horse is a work in progress at the moment. We’re keeping him busy. We feel the more experience he gets, the better he gets.
“Saturday will be another key point. I’ve got plenty of confidence in him. He’s exciting, and Her Majesty is our biggest asset in racing.”
Reach For The Moon is already prominent in ante-post lists for next year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby, but Dettori is not looking that far ahead at this stage.
He added: “Everybody is thinking about next year – I’m thinking one race at a time. Let’s get Saturday out of the way, and then progress.
“All the boxes are ticked, and everything is going in the right direction.
“After the Solario, myself and John felt the experience of racing is doing him good – and that is why we are getting him out.
“To have a colt of this calibre for the Queen is exciting. She saw the horse at Ascot. She comes to the yard a couple of times a year, and we are so lucky to have the Queen support the sport.”
Thady Gosden is similarly keen to get this weekend’s assignment out of the way before considering a potential Classic campaign in 2022.
He said: “He’s progressed nicely. He ran a good race at Ascot, he progressed in a novice and he won well at Sandown in the Solario.
“He goes to Doncaster in good form. It’s a very competitive race – there’s Lusail in there, who has plenty of speed and won the Gimcrack.
“It’s a long way away from the Derby at the moment – but he’s heading in the right direction, so hopefully he progresses.”
The biggest threat to Reach For The Moon appears to be the Richard Hannon-trained Lusail, who has already enjoyed two big-race victories this summer – Newmarket’s July Stakes and the Gimcrack at York.
“It looks a very good race and it always is,” said Hannon.
“Because it’s towards the end of the year it’s the clash of giants. I’m very happy with my horse. He’s won a Gimcrack, won a July Stakes – you don’t do that unless you’re a very good horse.
“It would obviously be easier without a penalty, but he carried a penalty in the Gimcrack and dealt with that no problem. He’s a big, strong horse and he will carry a big weight.
“He’s not just a two-year-old. I’ve always known he’d get seven furlongs, and maybe further. He’s a Guineas horse for next year, and you might even see some improvement at seven.
“Reach For The Moon looked a very good horse when he won the Solario. Our horse has done it twice at Group Two level now. He probably is the one to beat, but it’s a good race and very competitive.”
Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy looked a high-class juvenile when making a winning start to his career at Newbury, since when he has been narrowly beaten by Masekela in the Listed Denford Stakes at the Berkshire circuit.
Varian said: “It’s a strong race, but we’re keen to give it a go.
“He’s in good order and should run very well.
“I think there’s more improvement to come from him.”
The field is completed by Michael O’Callaghan’s Irish raider Twilight Jet.