Hills ace bids for York double
Connections of Magical Memory are praying there is not too much rain on the Knavesmire ahead of the grey's bid to repeat last year's victory in the Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes on Wednesday.
The five-year-old is ready to return to the fray after a 256-day absence following an under par showing in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, but trainer Charlie Hills and owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds have their fingers crossed conditions will not deteriorate.
"We're looking forward to it. He's in great shape and has been working very well at home. He'll come on for it, but we are worried about all the rain that's about," said Kennet Valley's racing manager, Sam Hoskins.
"The ground got him beaten well and truly at Haydock and if it got very soft it would be a major concern, but he's very well and it would be great to run him because the main objective is the Diamond Jubilee. If we could be in the top four tomorrow we'd be delighted.
"He's had a long time off and Frankie (Dettori) looked after him at Haydock. The ground was a bog and he won't run on ground like that again. We want to run him, he's in great form and showing all the old sparkle."
Hills also stressed the primary target is next month's Royal meeting.
"We've purposely not run him yet this season as the main aim is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Ascot, and this is basically his prep," the Lambourn trainer told www.charleshills.com.
"Saying that, his work at home has been good and he did win first time out last year, so he should put up a good show. The only worry is the forecast rain as he wouldn't want it too soft. He's grown again over the winter and is a seriously imposing horse now."
In the opposite camp, James Fanshawe wants plenty of the wet stuff for The Tin Man, who handled the saturated conditions at Haydock when second to Quiet Reflection in the Sprint Cup before getting his Group One reward in the Champions Sprint at Ascot in October.
"The Tin Man has wintered well," said Fanshawe.
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"He seems in good form and looks very well. This has been the plan and it is the ideal starting point for him. He likes Ascot so ideally the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot will be on his agenda as well as the other top sprints later in the year."
Growl was runner-up to The Tin Man at Ascot and his trainer Richard Fahey believes rain would not hinder his chances.
"A bit of rain will do him no harm. He loves a bit of slow ground. I was just a bit worried six furlongs on quick ground would upset him a bit, but the rain will help. He's in great form," said the Musley Bank handler.
"He's in great order, we're happy with him so we'll see."
Kevin Ryan is looking forward to seeing Brando strut his stuff again after a pleasing comeback victory in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket last month.
"He kept progressing but we always felt he was a horse that was going to do that. That's why we looked after him. He didn't have much racing up until last year," the Hambleton handler told Racing UK.
"He had a good winter, strengthened again and it was a great comeback run at Newmarket. We were worried it might be a bit too quick for him. I thought Ryan (Moore on Ornate) was getting away from him, but when Tom (Eaves) picked him up, he did it very easily and won with his ears pricked.
"It all bodes well for his future this year. After York it will be Royal Ascot. He had an entry in the Temple Stakes but that was only provisional really. The plan was the Duke of York and then go to Royal Ascot.
"He's in both the sprints down there, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it."
Godolphin have three bites at the cherry with Comicas, Baccarat and Jungle Cat though trainer Charlie Appleby is concerned about a serious ground change for the last two horses.
"There was a lot of rain in Dubai prior to World Cup Night, meaning that the ground went against both Jungle Cat and Baccarat in the Al Quoz Sprint," Appleby told www.godolphin.com.
"Jungle Cat had previously put together a good set of performances on quicker going and, if he can reproduce those efforts, he should be competitive on a sounder surface.
"It is the same situation with Baccarat – the ground is a key factor to him.
"Comicas has won on turf in the past at Doncaster and Meydan, so he handles the surface. His run in the Golden Shaheen was a career highlight and it is a question of whether he can reproduce that effort on turf.
"There is no doubt that sprinting is his game and we need to see whether he can do it on turf at this level.
"All three horses have come back from Dubai in good order and I have been very happy with their training."
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