Charlie Hills believes Dutch Connection should prove hard to beat in the Betway Criterion Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday if he returns to the top of his game.
After finishing fourth in the Lockinge at Newbury in May, the six-year-old failed to build on that effort when filling the same position in a Group Three at Haydock last time out.
With everything expected to be in his favour, the Lambourn handler is optimistic the Godolphin-owned runner can make it Pattern win number five in the Group Three prize on his first start at the July Course.
Hills said: “He ran a bit flat at Haydock. He travelled into the race really well, but he was not the same horse for whatever reason. He probably had a hard race at Newbury.
“I’ve been happy with him at home. He will like the ground and the trip is perfect. If he produces his Newbury form he should go close.”
Larchmont Lad, one of two runners in the race for trainer David O’Meara, along with So Beloved, will bid to confirm his superiority over Dutch Connection having finished two places ahead of him at Haydock.
Chris Richardson, racing manager to owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “Larchmont Lad is in good form. It is a very tough race, as they are very similar-rated horses.
“Initially we were a bit concerned that it would be too quick for him at Haydock, but he seemed to handle it well. David is happy with him.
“It was frustrating he got demoted in a Listed race last year, but that is racing and we always thought he was a good performer.
“He has raced over further, but seven furlongs suits him well and that certainly looks his favourite trip at this point in time.”
Richard Hannon feels it is the perfect race for Tabarrak, who was in between Dutch Connection and Larchmont Lad at Haydock.
He said: “Tabarrak is in great form. It’s the ideal race for him and I thought he did nothing wrong last time out.
“He is as tough and genuine as they come and he should run his race again. One of these races is going to fall his way.
“No one would begrudge him a win in a race like this. He is a lovely character and is well liked in the yard.”
Sir Dancealot steps back up in trip after finishing seventh in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Trainer David Elsworth said of his four-year-old: “It is a very competitive race with the ratings of the top horses all very close, but I am optimistic.
“He is back to his strongest distance after taking on some formidable opposition – arguably the world’s best sprinters – in the Diamond Jubilee.
“He showed he is suited by the seven furlongs of the July Course in last year’s Bunbury Cup and he handles this fast ground, which they do a very good job preparing.
“He’s a gelding and takes his racing pretty well these days. He’s a very fit horse and I would hope that you will see the same horse on Saturday that you saw last week.
“He likes a strong pace as he likes to do his running in the second half of the race.”
The field is completed by the William Haggas-trained Mankib and Lake Volta from the yard of Mark Johnston.