Fahey backing Growl to roar
Richard Fahey believes Growl can take the step up to seven furlongs in his stride when he lines up for the Betway John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.
The five-year-old has top-class form at six furlongs, notably when second to The Tin Man in the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot in October.
He has yet to win at the longer distance in two attempts, but ran well on both occasions in what were highly competitive handicaps at Newmarket and Ascot.
Growl disappointed on his seasonal debut when seventh to Tasleet in the Duke of York Stakes last month but that will have blown away the cobwebs as it was his first race since the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin in December and he has pleased his trainer since York.
"He's in good form. He probably ran a bit fresh first time out, but we're happy and hope he runs a big race," said Fahey.
"I've no worries about the trip and the ground should be fine.
"We're comfortable with him."
In contrast, Mitchum Swagger is dropping down in trip after contesting the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury three weeks ago when he was seventh to the Fahey-trained Ribchester, with fellow John of Gaunt rival Breton Rock third.
"He seems fine, I haven't done much with him," said his trainer David Lanigan.
"He likes the track, but unfortunately we're dropping down to seven furlongs. These are conditions he likes so at this time of the year we have to take a shot at it."
The rain-softened ground is also likely to favour Jallota, who shaped well on his reappearance in the bet365 Mile at Sandown in April when only beaten two lengths in third behind Sovereign Debt.
"He should like the ground and the trip is perfect for him," said trainer Charlie Hills.
"It's quite a competitive race. He ran a good race at Sandown and we've all been happy with him since.
"He's got a good a chance as any."
David O'Meara has two bites at the cherry with So Beloved and That Is The Spirit.
So Beloved was third in this race 12 months ago, while That Is The Spirit was not disgraced when sixth to Cable Bay in 2015. Both horses are course and distance winners.
So Beloved also occupied third spot in the Listed Spring Trophy when Absolutely So, who renews rivalry, was a length ahead in second.
"He ran well last time out behind Oh This Is Us. He likes the track and he's reasonably versatile as regards ground," O'Meara told At The Races.
"He travelled well and hopefully if he goes back there and runs like he did again you'll see him being competitive. He seems in good form at home.
"So Beloved has gone in soft ground at Goodwood and fast ground in some of his other wins.
"We also run That Is The Spirit. He loves soft ground and ran well in that race a few years ago, so hopefully he'll run well, too."
Owner Keith Brown believes his runner Dream Walker is capable of causing an upset if the ground becomes testing.
"He's a real mudlark this horse and he showed at Galway last summer that he's a got a bit of quality," he said.
"I'm not pretending we are the best horse in the field, but he might just pick up in the pieces and we could even nick it if the ground gets really demanding."
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