Clive Cox is looking to Diligent Harry to transfer his strong all-weather form to the turf this summer, with the Listed SBK Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster his starting point.
The son of Due Diligence won three of his first four races last season, including the 3 Year Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes Final at Lingfield.
Though yet to score in two Group races on the turf, he was runner-up in the Hackwood at Newbury in the first of those and takes on six rivals in what represents a drop in class for his first run of the new campaign on Saturday.
Cox said: “He was Group-placed at Newbury and didn’t like the ground at Ascot on his last start – it was far too soft.
“He came a very long way in a short space of time in the first half of the season and it culminated in winning the All-Weather Final, so it wasn’t too bad.
“The horse who beat him in his handicap, Rohaan, went on to win the Group Three Pavilion Stakes (at Ascot, along with the the Group Two Sandy Lane at Haydock and the Wokingham at Royal Ascot). We are still very pleased with him.
“He has a rating of 109 which speaks to what he achieved. If I could get every horse to be rated 109, I would be very happy.
“We have given him a winter off. I believe his rating is realistic and he deserves to be competing at the highest level.
“He has got to transform what he has shown from the all-weather to the turf, but he has thrived physically through the winter and watching his physical development, I hope he can move forwards this year.
“He has trained well, this is his first time out and as long as the ground keeps drying out, that will be in his favour. He didn’t like the soft ground at Ascot, which was quite an extreme, but being the last race of the season we let him take his chance.
“So, we hope the sun keeps shining and look forward to hopefully making a nice start.
“It is a very competitive race – short in numbers but strong in depth. I hope we can continue to progress with a horse we like a lot.”
Among his rivals is the Charlie Hills-trained Garrus, who landed a Group Three over six furlongs at Deauville in August, but was well held on good to soft ground in a Group Two over seven furlongs at Newmarket on his last run of the season in October.
Meanwhile, Antony Brittain is hopeful that Mondammej will take the step back up to six furlongs in his stride.
All three of his turf wins have come over the minimum trip, but his North Yorkshire-based handler feels the versatile five-year-old has options should he run well.
Brittain said: “His form is over five furlongs, don’t get me wrong. He has won over six and been placed over six, but there are a lot of opportunities over six furlongs this year, so why not have a go at it?
“We would want the ground to dry out a little bit, but I’m sure it will at least be good ground by raceday. He does have a few pounds to find, and obviously he has to overcome the step up to six furlongs, but he seems well and we’ll take out chances.
“He came second in a nice race over a stiff six furlongs at Newcastle last year, and it opens up a few options if he can find some form over six.
“The All-Weather Championships Final over six furlongs on April 15 is a possible target, depending on how he runs on Saturday.”
There are just four runners in the Listed SBK Doncaster Mile, which Richard Hannon hopes provides Chindit with a good opportunity to win for the first time since taking the Greenham Stakes at Newbury last April.
Chindit is rated 8lb higher than nearest market rival Boosala, trained by William Haggas. After signing off with a fair third to Al Suhail in a Group Two at Newmarket over seven furlongs in October, Chindit makes his seasonal debut stepping back up in trip.
Hannon said: “He is in good form. It is a chance for him to get back to winning ways hopefully. We took him to Kempton and he worked very well.
“There are only four runners, which is surprising, but good – there are less to beat! Mind you, we wouldn’t want to lose if there was just one against us.
“We’re very happy with him. He’s a good horse and we’d have to be hopeful.”
Heather Main feels Mostawaa holds every chance in the SBK Spring Mile Handicap after his hitting the post in last year’s renewal.
The six-year-old lost ground at the start when rearing up, before staying on well under Silvestre de Sousa to get within three-quarters of a length of Artistic Rifles.
Main said: “I think if he had not reared up in the stalls last year, he might have won. It was a little frustrating and then he was touched off at Ascot on his next run.
“He has been doing well at home and the handicapper has given him a chance, so we’re as hopeful as we can be.
“Silvestre de Sousa will ride. We will be using Silvestre as much as we can. He is my kind of jockey – very positive, and he has a good racing brain.”
Michael Dods admits the drying ground at Doncaster may not be ideal for A Boy Named Ivy.
The four-year-old ran some nice races in defeat last term, having started the year with victory in a minor Redcar handicap.
“The race has cut up to nine runners, which is a surprise,” said Dods.
“Our horse is in good form. He’s a horse we’ve not trained hard because he’s a bit fragile.
“He likes a bit of juice in the ground. It’s probably just going to be good ground on the day, but it’s a good starting point for him.”