The winner of a Leicester maiden before claiming Group Two honours in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, Richard Hannon’s juvenile was something of a surprise contender for this weekend’s seven-furlong prize when the entries were released on Monday.
After assessing the opposition, Middleham Park racing manager Tim Palin was immediately keen to let the youngster take his chance and he remains in bullish mood after a field of just seven runners were declared.
Palin said: “Middleham Park have never had a Group One winner, but luckily the trainer and jockey have had plenty, so we’re in good company.
“We always thought he was destined to make up into a Group One horse – he is a Group One winner in waiting. Everyone at the yard has always said he was at least as good as Trumpet Major and Dick Turpin on what he was showing at home and we think there is a lot more to come next year.
“As far as Sunday goes, I wouldn’t swap him for anything else in the race. He’s won over the trip, he goes on any ground and he has lots of pace and lots of class.
“He’s drawn well and no matter how the race is run, I think he’s versatile enough tactically to cope with it.
“He did well to win last time considering how inexperienced he is. Hughesie (Richard Hughes) said he was a bit of a baby, but that run will have made a man of him.
“He might not be favourite on Sunday, but I think he’s got a favourite’s chance.
“That might sound a bit bold when there is a Group 1 winner in there (Sudirman), but there are no real negatives and we are very hopeful.
“I certainly wouldn’t swap him for anything else in the race and I wouldn’t swap him as far as next year is concerned either.
“I would have thought this will be his last run as a two-year-old.”
Toormore is the only British-trained runner in the line-up, with David Wachman’s Sudirman the clear danger having won both the Railway Stakes and the Phoenix Stakes at the track this season.
Wachman believes the step up from six to seven furlongs could see Sudirman in an even better light.
“He’s in good form and we always thought seven furlongs would be more his thing than six,” said the trainer.
“I don’t know much about Richard Hannon’s horse, so we’ll just have to see what happens on the day.
“We’re happy with our horse and I think the trip will suit him well.”
Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien is unsurprisingly well represented, with his son Joseph siding with Dundalk maiden winner Giovanni Boldini over more experienced stable companions Friendship and Wilshire Boulevard.
Jim Bolger-trained newcomer Fiscal Focus and Ger Lyons’ maiden Sniper complete the field.