Astaire will test his Classic credentials in a red-hot renewal of the Aon Greenham Stakes at Newbury this afternoon.
Leading 2000 Guineas contenders Kingman, Berkshire, Night Of Thunder and market springer Lat Hawill bid to book their Newmarket tickets, and Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan takes them on with Astaire.
The son of Intense Focus claimed two of the big two-year-old prizes in 2013, the Gimcrack and the Middle Park Stakes, but both of those events came over six furlongs and he has an extra furlong to travel today.
While accepting this is a tough race, Ryan feels it is as good a place as any to start the campaign.
He said: “It looks like it will be a hot renewal but we have to start somewhere and we will take our chance.
“He has wintered great and looks the part. He is in good form at home so we will see.”
Supplicant landed the Group Two Mill Reef Stakes over six furlongs on this course in September before taking sixth place behind Astaire in the Middle Park.
Like most trainers, Richard Fahey is conscious of the class of opposition in this Classic trial.
“He showed progressive form last year and we’re pleased with him but it’s a very warm Greenham,” said the Malton handler.
“We have to run as there is nowhere to go and we’ll see what happens.
“We’re happy with him and on pedigree he has every chance of getting the seven furlongs.”
Fahey is also represented in the 1000 Guineas trial, the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, courtesy of Dutch Courage.
Owned by Cheveley Park Stud, the daughter of Dutch Art improved throughout her first campaign and showed her appreciation for the rise to today’s distance of seven furlongs when defying a mark of 87 in a nursery on the July Course last summer.
“She has to step up on what she’s shown, but we like her and we’ll find out afterwards where we are,” said Fahey.
“She’s fine and we’ve been pleased with her.”
The Coral Scottish Grand National is the feature event from a jumping perspective this weekend and leading Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell feels she has three live chances as she aims to fulfil a lifelong ambition.
The talented trio is headed by Green Flag, who has enjoyed a tremendous novice campaign over fences and was last seen when fourth behind Holywell at the Cheltenham Festival.
Russell said: “Green Flag ran a fantastic race at Cheltenham. We were delighted with him and his form is rock solid.
“There is a bit of a question mark about the four miles, so as far as he’s concerned hopefully they don’t get too much rain.”
Russell also saddles smart stayer Lie Forrit, who makes his first start over fences this season following two victories over hurdles.
The team is completed by Nuts N Bolts, who might be an outsider with bookmakers, but his trainer believes he has solid claims.
“I’ve been delighted with the way Lie Forrit has been running over hurdles and he is on a decent weight over fences compared to his hurdles mark. I’m pretty sure he’ll stay the four miles and he should have every chance as well,” said Russell.
“I’d be very confident Nuts N Bolts will get the trip and any amount of rain wouldn’t bother him. His jumping is consistent, he was never going to have many runs this year and this has been his main aim for the season.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow, David O’Meara sends Custom Cut across the Irish Sea from his Nawton base in an attempt to retain his Gladness Stakes crown at the Curragh.