Marco Botti is hoping Atalis Bay can vindicate the decision to bypass Royal Ascot in favour of the Coral “Beaten By A Length ” Free Bet Scurry Stakes at Sandown.
A winner of four of his eight races to date, Atalis Bay struggled to keep tabs on Tim Easterby’s impressive Winter Power at York last time out – but given she is among the leading fancies for the King’s Stand, there was no disgrace in that.
He beat the rest comfortably enough, and Botti feels he will be better off in Saturday’s Listed race than giving away weight in a handicap next week.
“He seems well – we’re coming here instead of Royal Ascot, and he seems in good order,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“I think he just bumped into a very good filly at York – but he pulled away from the rest of the field, so I thought that was a good run.
“He’s a stronger horse this year and has definitely progressed since last season – he’s turned into a proper sprinter now, which sometimes happens as they get older.
“Drawn in four is not a problem. It’s a small field, and he’s in the middle, so that is fine.
“He won over six (furlongs) last season – but at the level he’s at now, I think five is right for him. It was a lower class race he won over six – and Andrea (Atzeni), who knows him well, said he’s almost having to hold on to him over six, whereas over five he can use his speed.
“This race is perfect for three-year-olds who need five furlongs. The option at Ascot for him was the Palace of Holyrood House – but that would be a big field handicap, and he’d be almost top weight, he’d likely be giving weight to some nice horses.
“So, we thought we’d keep it simple and stick to what we know.”
There are two Irish contenders lining up – including Michael O’Callaghan’s Steel Bull, who won the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood last summer but has not scored since.
He was beaten a long way by Ireland’s new sprint star Logo Hunter first time out this year.
O’Callaghan said: “He needed his first run of the season. It was his first start against older horses, and the ground wasn’t ideal, but he has come out of the race well.
“Back over a fast five furlongs in England will suit him. He has a lot of natural speed – and the way he has to be ridden and held up, the draw might actually suit him.
“It is tough for three-year-old sprinters. We will just feel our way through this year, because I think he will develop into a really good sprinter.”
Kevin Coleman’s Queens Carriage, winner of her last three, has also made the journey from Ireland.
Mick Appleby’s Warrior Brave has won two of his last three, but this could be his swansong in the colours of current owners The Horsewatchers.
Appleby said: “He is possibly going to go in the London Sale (staged online by Goffs on Monday) after this if he runs well, and if he doesn’t he probably won’t and we might save him for the Wokingham, but the owners have lots of options.
“He did it well at Goodwood and he is progressing well, but this is his toughest race. He has run at five (furlongs) the last two times, but I think six is more his ideal trip.”