Michael Appleby is hopeful Caspian Prince can defy his big weight in the Tote Rockingham Handicap at the Curragh on Saturday.
Appleby has made the nine-year-old’s task less exacting by giving 7lb claimer Andrew Breslin the ride, but Caspian Prince will still have to concede lumps of weight to much of the opposition.
However, the Rutland trainer feels Caspian Prince has plenty going for him. He should appreciate the fast ground and has proven form at Group Two level at the Curragh.
Caspian Prince took the scalp of subsequent Nunthorpe heroine Marsha in the Sapphire Stakes over the course and distance in July and was fourth to Caravaggio in the Flying Five Stakes on his last visit in September.
“You’d have to think he’d have a good chance,” said Appleby.
“We’re taking 7lb off, so hopefully if he gets out quick he won’t be far away.
“The ground should be quick as well, so it should be spot on for him. He’s won there before.
“The only thing that might beat him is the weight, but with 7lb off he’s only got 2lb more than he had last time.”
Sprint specialist Paul Midgley reports his three runners – Move In Time, Line Of Reason and Patrick – to be in tip-tip shape and is just hoping for the rub of the green in such a hot contest.
“Two have got good draws, Patrick has got an average draw, I think,” said the North Yorkshire handler.
“I like to be middle to high. The speed is from middle to high, so I think Line of Reason (in stall 14) and Move In Time (15) have got good draws.
“They are in great form and both can win off their mark.
“We need a little bit of luck. The ground and the track will be fine for them both, so I’ll be looking for big runs from those two.
“The draw makes it more difficult for Patrick. He was just touched off in it last year and if he had a good draw I’d fancy him a lot more than I do because he’s drawn one.
“I know he’s out of the handicap, but I think he’s still well handicapped.
“We’ve got three good riders, so it’s fingers crossed.”
Other British contenders are David Griffiths’ pair of Duke Of Firenze and Lucky Beggar, Declan Carroll’s Justanotherbottle, Michael Wigham’s Foxy Forever, Scott Dixon’s Dark Shot and Only Spoofing from Jedd O’Keeffe’s stable.
Of the home contingent, Willie McCreery feels Patuano, who was fifth 12 months ago, has the ability to run another big race from stall nine.
“She’s well-drawn, there’s speed all around her and, if she can go the early pace, I think she has a good chance,” said the County Kildare trainer.
Marie’s a diamond in Railway Stakes
Marie’s Diamond will bid to provide Middleham Park Racing with a second victory in the Railway Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh on Saturday.
The successful syndicate landed the prestigious juvenile prize with the tough-as-teak Kool Kompany in 2014 and look to have another major contender on their hands in Mark Johnston’s dual winner.
The son of Footstepsinthesand disappointed when favourite for the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom on his penultimate start, but bounced back with a comprehensive all-the-way victory at Chester.
Middleham Park’s Mike Prince said: “It was good to get back to winning ways last time out at Chester.
“We’ve just put a line through Epsom, we went there confident but I think the ground was probably too soft and he took Cosmic Law on from a long way out and was soon beaten.
“We thought we had to have another run to decide what we did with him, so it was pleasing to see him win. The choice was Ascot or wait for this and we decided to wait.
“As it comes quickly after Ascot, Aidan O’Brien tends not to run his best two-year-old and we won it a few years ago with Kool Kompany.”
O’Brien has saddled 11 previous winners of the Railway Stakes and has three chances in this year’s renewal.
Ryan Moore partners Van Beethoven, who was an eyecatching fourth in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot last week, while the trainer’s son, Donnacha, rides Land Force, who was beaten just half a length into third in the Norfolk Stakes.
North Wind, who was well-beaten in the Windsor Castle, completes the O’Brien trio under Seamie Heffernan.
O’Brien said of Van Beethoven: “He’s in good form. He ran very well in Ascot and seems to be in good form since.
“It looked in Ascot, obviously, that he would get further than five (furlongs).
“It was much the same thing with Land Force at Ascot. He was coming home well and he seems in good form since.”
Fozzy Stack has high hopes for Highland Fortune, who finished sixth on his Curragh debut before opening his account at Leopardstown.
“The maiden he ran in first time couldn’t have worked out any better. Hopefully he’ll run a good race,” said Stack.
“I suppose it really revolves around Aidan’s horses.
“Our horse was impressive the last day and he’s been in good order since. We think he’s a nice horse in the making.
“We’re coming back in trip a furlong, but I don’t think that will bother him really.
“He’s certainly not short of pace, it looked like he could have won at any trip the other day.”
Marie’s Diamond is one of two British raiders alongside Mick Channon’s unbeaten colt Certain Lad.
The Ger Lyons-trained Invasion Day and Invincible Karma from Jessica Harrington’s yard complete the eight-strong team.