Johnny Murtagh believes the drop back to a mile will see Rip Van Winkle at his best in the BGC Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on Wednesday.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt was only beaten a length by the dual Classic winner Sea The Stars in the Coral-Eclipse over a mile and a quarter at Sandown earlier this month, with subsequent King George hero Conduit back in third.
The son of Galileo had been fourth to Sea the Stars in the Derby and 2000 Guineas on his two previous starts this season.
“I’m really looking forward to riding the horse again and everyone knows he’s one of my favourite horses,” said the Irish jockey.
“Obviously there has been a lot of hype about the horse and I think everyone knows the high regard I hold him in and Aidan O’Brien holds him in – hopefully tomorrow will be the day he shows everybody.
“He’s a horse with a lot of speed, so the drop to a mile won’t be a problem. Maybe we’ve been running him over the wrong trip.
“It looks a hot race, the Sussex always is. You can see when you look at the race down the years the great horses that have run in it and won it, and tomorrow is no different.
“It’s a strong field and whoever wins it will probably be the best miler around.
“My horse is in great form at home and he’s a horse who is very solid and consistent in his work.
“I just can’t wait – I wouldn’t swap him.”
Rip Van Winkle this time takes on the 1000 Guineas winner Ghanaati.
Connections of the Barry Hills-trained filly are praying the forecast rain does not arrive until after the race.
“We’re looking forward to it very much, particularly if the rain stays away,” said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
“It’s only her fifth race altogether so, with any luck, she’s still improving.
“She’ll need a bit of luck and we just hope for the best.”
Richard Hughes feels his mount, Paco Boy, has strong claims – despite having to concede weight to Ghanaati.
“I’m looking forward to it. Our prospects are pretty good. It may be a big thing giving the filly (Ghanaati) 11lb but she’s only a three-year-old so we’ll take our chance,” he said.
“He put up a top-class performance in the Queen Anne and he’s never run a bad race in his life – even in the Lockinge when he wasn’t right.”
Trainer Richard Hannon reports the four-year-old to be at the “top of his game” for this classic confrontation.
“He did a fabulous piece of work on Sunday morning with Hughesie (Richard Hughes) aboard, and he goes there at the top of his game,” the Everleigh trainer told www.richardhannonracing.tv.
“The three-year-olds get a generous weight allowance, but Rip Van Winkle has been beaten three times this season and I have no worries about taking him on.
“Ghanaati, however, could be a tougher nut to crack. She impresses me more every time I see her and, being a filly, she receives 11lb.
“But, apart from her, I can’t see anything to fear.”
Clive Cox is happy there is rain about for Beacon Lodge, who showed his well-being with a good win over a mile at Chantilly on his latest start.
“It’s obviously a step up for him, but we were very pleased with his success again at Group Three level in France last time,” he said the Lambourn trainer.
“He did it very convincingly so with the recent rainfall we are going to have some very nice ground, I hope, which suits us perfectly and I’m happy he’s in great nick which is why we are giving it a shot.
“That was his first try at a mile and he did it very well, so I’m hoping that’s where we can hold our improvement in that step up.”
Mick Channon wants the forecast rain to arrive at the Sussex track so Lahaleeb can take her chance.
“They’re expecting a not inconsiderable amount, starting later today,” the West Ilsley trainer told www.mickchannon.tv.
“If it happens she might as well take her chance. It all depends on how accurate the forecast turns out to be.”