Fleeting Spirit to be put to the test in King’s Stand

FLEETING Spirit will face 14 rivals as she bids for Group One glory in tomorrow’s King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Jeremy Noseda’s three-year-old made quite an impression when winning the Temple Stakes at Haydock on her reappearance, setting a new course record in the process.

She will face top Australian sprinters and Ascot veterans Takeover Target and Magnus this time along with last year’s Prix de l’Abbaye winner Benbaun.

Kingsgate Native, winner of last year’s Nunthorpe as a juvenile, makes his seasonal bow for John Best in what is a truly international heat.

Along with the Australian raiders, Equiano represents Spanish connections while South African mare National Colour adds further spice.

Bryan Smart has declared both Moorhouse Lad and Captain Gerrard, although the trainer has warned the latter will only run if the ground is suitable.

Eric Alston has attached a similar proviso for stable star Reverence, who needs to see some rain to take his chance. Godolphin’s Dandy Man, Abraham Lincoln, Hoh Mike, Enticing and outsider Matsunosuke complete the list.

Michael Bell admits Hoh Mike will have to turn in a career-best effort if he is to take a hand in the finish.

The four-year-old was a three-time winner last year but has yet to strike this term, finishing fifth in both the Duke Of York Stakes and a Listed event at Windsor.

Bell said: “The ground went against him at Windsor last time but his optimum trip is a stiff five furlongs and that is what Ascot is.

“The conditions are exactly right for him and the racecourse is right for him but he would have to post a career best. He’s in good order though and although it looks a competitive race, he deserves his chance.”

Meanwhile Art Connoisseur steps up in trip to six furlongs as he tackles Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Michael Bell’s charge has won both of his starts over five furlongs this term, cruising home on his debut at Leicester before showing an electric turn of foot at Newmarket last time.

Art Connoisseur was also under consideration for the Norfolk Stakes over the minimum trip later in the week, but Bell is confident the Lucky Story colt will only improve for the extra distance.

“We think he’s going to be better over six furlongs and he’s been working well and is in good form,” he said.

“We are fully convinced that he’s going to be a better horse over six and we’re keen to run him on faster ground as well.

“It may be a brave shout but if he is going to be better over six, he should be capable of a good run in the Coventry.”

Art Connoisseur is one of 18 runners in the Group Two heat, with Mick Channon’s nine-length Newbury winner Orizaba among his main rivals.

Henrythenavigator, the dual 2000 Guineas victor, won the race last year for Aidan O’Brien and the Ballydoyle team send Peter Tchaikovsky this time. Woodcote Stakes winner Smokey Storm makes a quick reappearance while other noteworthy contenders include Icesolator, winner of the National Stakes last time.

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