John Gosden’s grey is still unbeaten and won last year’s St Leger at Doncaster, but fell seriously ill over the winter with peritonitis which can be a life-threatening condition.
Thankfully he made a full recovery and returned to action at this year’s Leger meeting after a year off the track, beating his sole rival with ease.
“Given how serious his illness was over the winter we were delighted with how Doncaster went in every way and everyone has been very pleased with him since,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager.
“All his work at home suggests he’s in very good form – it’s encouraging. Rab (Havlin) rode him last year and rides him a lot at home so he knows him well.”
The ground at Ascot is expected to be pretty testing come the race, but Grimthorpe is not unduly concerned unless it became bottomless.
“We always thought he would handle soft ground. If it gets extreme, what I call specialist areas, then that is an unknown, but I think he’d certainly handle it soft,” said Grimthorpe.
“His dam, Scuffle, never ran on anything like it’s going to be, but his dad, Frankel, of course won a Champion Stakes on bottomless ground on Champions Day so there is some encouragement.
“This looks a nice race for him, a Group Three without a penalty, but like all these things the reality is never quite what you imagine.
“He’s going into the race in good form, we’re all happy with him and have been since Doncaster. Of course there is some trepidation, mainly because of the infection he had over the winter, but hopefully he’s over it.”
Logician running just 24 hours before Enable’s bid for history in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in some ways is helping keep Grimthorpe’s nerves at bay.
“This weekend is why we are in the game, for these great moments,” he said. We have an unbeaten Classic winner running on Saturday and a great racemare going for a third Arc on Sunday, it doesn’t get much bigger than that.
“For everyone, from Prince Khalid downwards at Juddmonte, it’s exciting and this is what it is all about. If you didn’t get nervous you clearly don’t care.”
Chief opposition to Logician is Andrew Balding’s Morando, winner of the race last year, and the Kingclere handler also runs Alounak.
“This was always the plan for Alounak. But obviously, when the weather forecast looked like it did, (we thought) it could just be an opportunity for Morando – who won it last year. Both are in good form, and both would be competitive,” Balding told Sky Sports Racing.
“Morando won it well last year – he loves soft ground. He just got caught out at Chester last time – it was probably the ground had dried up a bit.
“He’s in great form. Our aim was the two-miler on Champions Day, which it still is, and going here won’t stop us doing that.”
Balding, though, is well aware they both have Logician to beat. “He’s a superstar horse really, so it won’t be easy. But if a lot of rain comes that will certainly play to Morando’s strengths,” he said.
Roger Varian’s Daahyeh returns to action for the first time since finishing a meritorious second at the Breeders’ Cup when she runs in the John Guest Racing British EBF Stakes at Ascot.
A fruitful first campaign, in which she was also second to Love in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, culminated in a trip to America, where she was beaten by Sharing.
A setback delayed her return, but David Egan, who won twice on her last season – including the Albany Stakes – is looking forward to getting back on board.
“We’ve not seen her on track this year as she had a little setback, but I’m sure she will be spot on for Saturday and I’m hoping she can get back to her best,” said Egan.
“She has obviously got the form in the book having been second in the Breeders’ Cup and being a Royal Ascot winner, so she is the one to beat. They’ve done plenty of work with her and Roger feels she is fit and ready to go and make her mark for the year.
“She is back at seven furlongs having run over a mile at the Breeders’ Cup, but she won the Rockfel over seven and the Albany over six, so she is not short of speed. I think an Ascot seven is well within her capabilities.
“I wouldn’t want it bottomless for her, but anything would be fine as long as it is not exaggerated.”
Another Royal Ascot winner, Charlie Fellowes’ Onassis, once again has the assistance of Hayley Turner, having finished fourth in a Doncaster Group Three last time out.
The Newmarket trainer said: “The form of the Doncaster race worked out very nicely when Cloak Of Spirits (fifth) and Bounce The Blues (third) went and ran first and second in that race (Rosemary Stakes) the other day.
“She loves Ascot – her run style really suits it, and seven furlongs with cut in the ground, which it’s going to be, is perfect. We’re ready to go – she’s in good form, and it will be absolutely ideal for her.”
Fellowes, meanwhile, is similarly enthused by the prospects of King Ottokar, also over seven furlongs, in the tote.co.uk Challenge Cup – having at last, he believes, worked out what makes the talented son of Motivator tick.
“King Ottokar has been a real head-scratcher,” he said. “I’ve never made any secret of how highly I regard this horse. (But) he was going nowhere in the spring – he showed me nothing, and I was really disappointed with his work.
“He ran poorly twice, and then we gelded him, and I put a visor on him at home – and it was like a different horse. The horse I had last year returned.
“He showed me much more speed than he’d shown me all year, much more speed.
“He’s much better on soft ground, and confirmed that the other day. It looks like we’re probably going to get his conditions this weekend.”
King Ottokar faces 17 rivals in a hugely-competitive heat, including Clive Cox’s duo of River Nymph and Wise Counsel.
Cox is also represented in the John Guest Bengough Stakes by Snazzy Jazzy, who wears first-time cheekpieces.
“He is in the form of his life at home. I’ve put some cheekpieces on him as I just think he would help his concentration,” said Cox.
“We’ve moved between six and seven furlongs with him, but I don’t know what happened last time at Goodwood. The one thing we can do is sleep easy with all this rain about as the more rain the better for him.”
In the same race, The Tin Man returns to a track where he has won two Group Ones for James Fanshawe.
“We know he acts with cut in the ground, but there is a lot forecast and when it gets to extremes you just don’t know,” said Fanshawe.
“As far as the horse is concerned he’s really well and we are running in a Group Three rather than a Group One, so hopefully he’ll find it a bit easier.
“He’s in good form, he’s been working well so we’ll see how he gets on.”
In the tote.co.uk Rous Stakes over five furlongs Tiz Marvellous carries the hopes of Cox, along with the three-year-old Star In The Making.
“Tiz Marvellous often turns up in races like this,” said Cox.
“He surprised me when he won the conditions race at Leicester on soft ground because I’ve always believed he wanted better ground. Even if it is really wet we are going to take a chance with him as it is his last run of the season.
“It is a bit of a big step for Star In The Making to take but she enjoys the ground, she is in excellent form and when you have got a filly in form at this time of year it pays to be brave.
“We going to have a crack at getting some black type on her page.”
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