Safe Voyage aims to erase the memory of a disappointing run in the Lockinge Stakes and wrap up a fifth win at Haydock, in the Betway John of Gaunt Stakes.
His latest success at the Merseyside circuit came in this race when it was last run in 2019, since when Safe Voyage has won twice at Group Two level – at York and Leopardstown last season – as well as going close in the Group One Prix de la Foret on Arc day in October.
John Quinn’s talented eight-year-old failed to show his true form at Newbury when finishing last of 11 on his latest start in top company, but his trainer is confident of a much better display in Saturday’s Group Three contest back on his happy hunting ground.
“I’ve been pleased with him since the Lockinge. It didn’t really work for him – but he loves Haydock, and we’re hoping for a good run,” said the Malton handler.
“The ground will be fine for him, so it’s fingers crossed.”
Tom Dascombe is hoping Brad The Brief will prove adaptable when he tries seven furlongs for only the second time, having been hampered on his first attempt at the Curragh last month.
“He’s generally been a six-furlong horse, (but) we think that seven will suit,” said Dascombe.
“Soft ground is an absolute must, and I think he’ll get the ground anyway.”
Paul Hanagan is bullish about the chances of the Richard Fahey-trained Toro Strike, who impressed on his seasonal reappearance in a conditions event at Thirsk last month.
“I couldn’t be happier. He was just on his head early on round that sharp track at Thirsk. I think Haydock will probably suit him better,” the jockey told Sky Sports Racing.
“He’s come out of the race well, and we’re really happy with him. Even just to look at him, he’s a beautiful-looking horse and has a wonderful temperament.
“He’s got everything going for him. We’re really hopeful.”
Queen Jo Jo was third behind Safe Voyage in the City Of York Stakes in August when she last tackled seven furlongs.
Kevin Ryan knows conditions will be more testing, but has no qualms about running the five-year-old mare.
“It’s going to be very testing ground and over seven furlongs, but she’s in good form and we’re there to take our chance,” said the Thirsk-based trainer.
William Haggas saddles Group Three-winning filly With Thanks, and said: “I hope she’ll enjoy the ground, but she will need her first run.
“I’m trying to get her to Ascot for the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, so she’ll probably need this, but she’s done very well so far and I’m hopeful she’ll run a very good race
“She’s much better than last year, and much stronger, and she’s very genuine.”
Charlie Appleby’s Glorious Journey returns to British action after running well in Dubai and Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, with recent Victoria Cup winner River Nymph (Clive Cox), Kinross (Ralph Beckett) and Irish raider Njord (Jessica Harrington) completing the field.