Michael Bell is hoping Eagles By Day can build on a promising effort at Royal Ascot when he steps up in trip for the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket.
The son of Sea The Stars put in his best work at the finish to fill third place behind Japan in the King Edward VII Stakes, after being unable to take a hand at the business end of the Lingfield Derby Trial when sixth to subsequent Epsom hero Anthony Van Dyck.
Bell expects Thursday’s longer distance of one mile five furlongs to play to Eagles By Day’s strengths because his dam, Missunited, stayed well and was runner-up in the 2014 Ascot Gold Cup.
“He’s had a good time since Ascot,” said Bell.
“I thought he ran a very encouraging race, and this looks very much the right race for him, and I think he will be suited by the track and the trip.”
Ranch Hand gets back on the track after suffering a small setback following his fifth place in the Lingfield Derby Trial.
The Andrew Balding-trained colt had won his first two starts in promising fashion at Southwell in the spring.
“He had a little niggle after the Lingfield Derby Trial . He ran a good race in that, and the form has worked out well,” said Balding.
“He is a horse we like a lot, but this is a big step up in class. We know the family stay very well, because his sire won the Melbourne Cup.
“He was a big, immature horse last year – that is why he didn’t get to the track. I’m very happy with him and I’ve been delighted with his last couple of pieces of work. He has a fair bit to find, but he is a nice horse in the making.”
Archie Watson’s Nate The Great was ahead of Ranch Hand when third at Lingfield but was well-beaten behind the Balding-trained Dashing Willoughby in the Queen’s Vase on rain-softened ground at Royal Ascot.
Watson said: “He is a very solid horse and he ran a very good race first time back in the Lingfield Derby Trial – only beaten four lengths by the Epsom Derby winner that day.
“The ground on the round track at Ascot was horrific last time, and he really didn’t enjoy that, so being back to a better surface will help.
“It was his first run beyond a mile and a half last time, and I’m sure these will be his type of trips, and this stiff one mile five should be up his street. He travelled well at Ascot, but when he got there nothing really happened.”
Aidan O’Brien has a good guide to the form through Anthony Van Dyck and Japan, and relies on Barbados.
The son of Galileo stepped up to belie his odds of 20-1 with a fine effort to finish second to Dashing Willoughby in the Queen’s Vase.
Nayef Road, who was only half-a-length back in third place after making a lot of the running, is an interesting contender from the Mark Johnston stable.
“He took a good step forward in the Queen’s Vase,” said Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father.
“I think it took us all by surprise just how marked the improvement was for stepping up to a mile and six (furlongs).
“He is obviously a much better horse over the longer trip than he was over a mile and a quarter, and hopefully there’s more to come from him.
“I think he goes to Newmarket with a live chance.”