Francesco Guardi set to return this month

James Ferguson is planning to give Francesco Guardi his three-year-old debut this month.

The Newmarket trainer reports the Frankel colt to have thrived over the winter and is looking forward to stepping up him in trip, with a mile-and-a-quarter the likely starting point.

“I’m very happy with him. He’s in full work, and we’re looking forward to getting him back out,” said Ferguson.

“I’m probably going to aim him for something in the middle of April, probably over a mile-and-a-quarter. What I go for, I’m not really sure yet.”

Ferguson has given Franceso Guardi an entry in the Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York in May – in case he shows he deserves to have a crack at the Group Two, a recognised Derby trial.

“The thing about entering him in the Dante is that it’s one of those races, if you find out you’re good enough and you’re not in it, it’s a shame you’re not,” he said.

“He’s working very well. He’s always been a very relaxed, laid-back horse. He probably takes a while to get really ready.”

Francesco Guardi made a promising start to his career with a winning debut at Salisbury in July, and then finished a close third over the same trip of seven furlongs in a Listed contest at Newbury.

However, he blotted his copybook when last of four over a mile at Yarmouth – after jumping a road crossing in what turned out to be his final start as a juvenile in mid-September.

“He was not bred to be a two-year-old – he’s bred to be an older horse and want a trip,” added Ferguson.

“When he ran first time out he was a bit gormless, and then he proved how gormless he was at Yarmouth, but I really like him and am thrilled with what he’s done.

“He’s put on plenty of condition and he’s filled out with muscle, and I think he’s going to come into his own this year.”