Andrea Atzeni believes Knavesmire trip will suit Yorkshire-trained Juan Elcano in Sky Bet York Stakes

ROYAL Ascot winners Mohaafeth and Juan Elcano could face Irish challenger Armory in an intriguing renewal of the Sky Bet York Stakes this weekend.

Jockey Andrea Atzeni expects a bold show from Juan Elcano in this weekend's Sky Bet York Stakes.
Jockey Andrea Atzeni expects a bold show from Juan Elcano in this weekend's Sky Bet York Stakes.

Following his late withdrawal from the Cazoo Derby at Epsom in early June, the William Haggas-trained Mohaafeth made it four from four for the season in the Hampton Court Stakes at last month’s showpiece meeting under Jim Crowley.

Meanwhile Juan Elcano, trained at Hambleton by Kevin Ryan, bounced back from a disappointing run of results with victory in the Wolferton Stakes under Andrea Atzeni, who believes he will have plenty in his favour on the Knavesmire. He said: “He won nicely at Ascot on fast ground, which hopefully he’ll get on Saturday - that is what he wants.

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“I think an easy mile and a quarter at York will suit him perfectly. Obviously our fellow has got to improve again, but I’m sure he will have done and it was great to get his head in front the last day.

Mohaafeth could line up in the Sky Bet York Stakes this weekend.

“He’s a horse we always thought a lot of. Like I said, he needs to take another step forward, but if he does he should be very competitive.”

The highest-rated horse in the field is Armory, who could bid to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a first York Stakes success after finishing a close-up third behind his esteemed stablemate Love in last month’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Haggas has also entered talented miler Montatham, who could test the water over 10 furlongs for the first time in Saturday’s Group Two feature. Andrew Balding’s Bangkok and Ebury from Scott Dixon’s yard are the other hopefuls.

Meanwhile the aforementioned Love and Derby hero Adayar are among nine confirmations for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

Yorkshire Oaks heroine Love heads the field for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

The winner of the English, Irish and Yorkshire Oaks last season, Love made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

O’Brien has also left in Broome, Japan and Mogul as he goes in search of a fifth King George success following the previous triumphs of Galileo (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007), Duke Of Marmalade (2008) and Highland Reel (2016).

With Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver taken out after suffering a setback, Love’s biggest threat appears to be the Charlie Appleby-trained Adayar, who was a brilliant winner of the Derby last month.

That form has been well advertised since by his stablemate Hurricane Lane, who was third in the premier Classic and has subsequently won both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris. Love will have to concede 8lb to Adayar due to the weight-for-age allowance.

Martyn Meade is set to saddle Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle, while the Haggas-trained Addeybb and John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff could renew rivalry after finishing second and third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.