Winter Power seeks to recapture last season’s sparkling form when she takes on nine rivals in the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes at York on Saturday.
The daughter of Bungle Inthejungle won two of her first three starts in her Classic year for Tim Easterby, including victory in this race, before returning to the Knavesmire to take the laurels in the Group One Nunthorpe.
Subsequently tried in top-class company again on her next four starts – including two this season – she has been found wanting and trailed home 12th of 14 in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot on her previous outing.
Alastair Donald, racing manager for the filly’s King Power Racing owners, feels a drop in class on her favourite track may help restore confidence.
“She wasn’t quite right after her first two runs this year and hopefully we have got her back to her best,” said Donald.
“Obviously, she has a pretty good record at York, winning three from three there.
“There are not a lot of races for these good five-furlong horses, so the idea is to try to get her back on a winning vein and go back for the Nunthorpe.”
Bookmakers see the unbeaten Royal Aclaim as her biggest danger. James Tate’s runner flashed plenty of promise when beating the likes of subsequent three-time Group One winner Perfect Power and Listed scorer Fearby on her debut over five furlongs at Newcastle last May.
However, she suffered a setback and did not return until winning a novice very impressively at Bath four weeks ago.
“We hope she is a very exciting filly,” said Tate. “We spend all our careers looking for nice horses. She beat a couple of smart horses first time out and we have been dreaming ever since that she may be up to that level.
“We were very happy with her comeback race at Bath. This Listed race obviously asks a lot more of her, with the likes of Winter Power in the line-up.
“However, we are excited to see how she gets on.
“Unfortunately she picked up an injury getting ready for the Queen Mary and she was off all that time (382 days). We are all good now. We had that nice, easy comeback win at Bath, which has put her in line for essentially her first proper test.”
The Newmarket handler hopes the daughter of Aclaim, who is in receipt of 5lb or more from her rivals, will pass her examination and head herself to the Nunthorpe on August 19.
“Obviously, if all things go well, there is another race at York that is a little bit bigger than this,” he added.
“The Group Two King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood could technically fit in between this and the Nunthorpe, but let’s take one step at a time.
“At the minute, she’s only won two novices but yes, we are certainly are dreaming she is capable of something bigger.”
Among her rivals are several decent handicappers taking a jump in class, including Karl Burke’s Korker, who justified favouritism when scoring over course and distance on his penultimate run, and Julie Camacho’s Makanah, who has been placed in big-field handicaps on his last three starts.
The trainer’s husband, Steve, feels the seven-year-old is in the form of his life.
He said: “He has been running very well carrying big weights in handicaps, so we thought we would give him a try in a Listed race.
“He has been in good form all year and it is shame he hasn’t been able to just pop his head in front when probably, consistency-wise, at the level he has been running at, it is the best he has done for us.
“He likes York and you could see him putting in a good shift again, but there are one or two slightly more favoured at the weights, although I am sure he will give it a good shot again.”