While there have been plenty of dual winners on the roll of honour which stretches back as far as 1804, no horse has won it four years apart.
He was trained by Dandy Nicholls four years ago and progressed from handicaps right to the top of the sprinting tree to win Haydock’s Sprint Cup and the Prix Maurice de Gheest in France.
The eight-year-old may not have won since his trip to Deauville but he has run some decent races in defeat, not least since joining veteran handler Bradley, who in his pomp was a man to be feared in races like this.
“He finished off his race well at Bath last time,” said Bradley.
“I hope he’s coming right just in time for the job but there’ll be lots of others who think the same.
“The soft ground will suit him, he’ll have no problems on that score. And even if it gets tacky that will bring stamina into play – he’s won over seven so it’s not an issue.
“We’re going up there with high hopes. He’s really perked up over the last month and seems to be coming back to himself.
“He’s not a young horse anymore but he’s still enthusiastic.
“I’m happy with the draw (19). We said we wanted between 18-21 so it couldn’t have worked out better.
“It would be some achievement if he could win the race four years after he first did it.”
Another former winner taking part is last year’s hero Our Jonathan, one of four from Kevin Ryan’s yard along with Pintura, Captain Ramius and Louis The Pious.
“Even for soft ground horses this is going to take some getting, it’s going to be a slog,” said Ryan.
“Luckily enough I’ve got three who will go through the ground, how well they will go through it I don’t know.
“When the rain came, Our Jonathan was obviously one people latched on to and I’m really happy with him. We’ve trained him for the race, he looks really well for this time of year and seems in just as good a shape as last year.
“Pintura stays seven furlongs and a mile, he’s not a slow horse and he loves soft ground so he should hold his own.”
David O’Meara’s Doc Hay is aiming to become the first horse since Lochsong in 1992 to win the Portland Handicap at Doncaster and the Ayr Gold Cup.
“He hasn’t been busy all summer, he had a three-month break, so he should be grand,” O’Meara told At The Races.
“It (the draw) will be all right, we were left with little choice really. Our Jonathan may go over that side, where he won it last year.
“There is a bit of pace over there. Pintura is drawn nine and The Cheka is drawn 11, so there should be enough pace to give him a nice tow.
“Prior to the Portland, all his form was on soft ground, so it should be fine.
“He’s a horse who finishes off his races really well, so hopefully they’ll be stopping in front and it might just set it up for something like him.”
The 10-year-old Borderlescott is aiming to sign off his career in Britain with another big win as he is likely to finish his career in the Prix de l’Abbaye on his next start.
“He came out of the Beverley race really well and if he had stayed straight there, we were looking at five or six lengths. Hopefully he’s still got it — he’s still got an engine and is bouncing,” said part-owner James Edgar.
“He has run in this race before and he won the Coral Trophy on soft ground. Royston Ffrench kicked on two out at York and it was harem scarem when he just held on.
“We don’t have any real fears about the ground, as long as it’s not tacky we’re in there with a shout.”
It is well known the crowd have not cheered home a local winner since Roman Warrior in 1975 and Jim Goldie’s Hawkeyethenoo is back for a third go.
“We are where we are in the race, but we’ll go stands side and I’m quite pleased with it,” Goldie said.