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In-form Andrea Atzeni relishing Royal Ascot challenge

Fresh from Saturday’s York double, Andrea Atzeni heads into Royal Ascot week on a high with several plum rides to look forward to, headed by Legend Of Dubai in the Royal Hunt Cup.

Atzeni has had eight winners from his last 30 rides, including his last three, and he is brimming with confidence ahead of the five-day Royal meeting.

The Italian rider is key cog in Roger Varian’s Newmarket operation, and Legend Of Dubai is one of the stable’s main hopes in the cavalry charge over the straight mile on Wednesday.

The four-year-old is on a hat-trick after wins at Ffos Las last August and another on his seasonal return at Newmarket.

Atzeni said: “He is a lovely horse and is obviously beautifully bred – and bred to be a lot better than a handicapper.

“He won nicely at Newmarket and obviously the plan was the Hunt Cup.

“We could have had a run in between, but he has a high enough mark to get into the race and he likes fast ground.

“He is a horse who will not mind if it is good or good to firm ground and his work has been good. The Hunt Cup is a lottery, but if he hopefully gets a good draw, he would have a good chance.”

Big things were mooted for Sea The Stars colt Subastar after he powered up the Rowley Mile to score on his juvenile debut over a mile last September.

However, despite receiving quotes for the Classics, he did not reappear until the end of April, when a tame third of four to Nations Pride in a Listed 10-furlong race.

Atzeni has certainly not lost faith in the Varian-trained colt, who holds a double engagement – in the Group Three Hampton Court Stakes on Thursday and the Group Two King Edward VII on Friday.

He feels the former is more likely, in which the Queen’s Reach For The Moon is a warm order.

Atzeni said: “I think the plan is to go to the Hampton Court over a mile and quarter.

Subastar (left) set to run in the Hampton Court on Thursday
Subastar (left) set to run in the Hampton Court on Thursday (Tim Goode/PA)

“His comeback run at Newmaket saw him travel good, and it looked like he just got a bit tired. The ground was probably a bit quick but his homework has got a lot better since his run. He has woken up a lot. I think he is a nice horse.

“Obviously we have Reach For The Moon in the race and (Derby third) Hoo Ya Mal has been supplemented for the race, but he is a horse who we have been kind with and he is a lot better than his Newmarket run.

“He is beautifully bred and I’m looking forward to getting back on him.”

The Kevin Ryan-trained Juan Alcano will bid to win the Listed Wolferton Stakes for a second successive year on Tuesday and while last of three on his seasonal return at Sandown in April, Atzeni felt he would come on for his first run in seven months.

Atzeni steered Juan Elcano (right) to Wolferton Stakes success last season
Atzeni steered Juan Elcano (right) to Wolferton Stakes success last season (David Davies/PA)

“Juan Alcano won the race last year and I thought his comeback run was decent and he probably he needed the race,” he added.

Ryan and Atzeni will team up again in the Albany Stakes on Friday with the once-raced Elvenia, a daughter of Dark Angel who steps up in trip for her second start.

“She won over five at Newcastle last time out,” said the jockey. “We were trying to find a race over six (furlong), but because we were getting closer to Ascot, Kevin had to get a run into her and the race at Newcastle came up, which she won.

“I think the step up to six will really suit her. I spoke to Kevin on Saturday and he says she has come on a lot.

“She has won a novice and it depends on how much she has improved, but I’m really looking forward to getting back on her.”

Mobadra is another whom he hopes will go well when she lines up in Wednesday’s finale, the Kensington Palace Stakes.

The Varian-trained daughter of Oasis Dream signed off her three-year-old campaign in November with a second win from five career starts, taking a seven-furlong Kempton all-weather handicap in good style.

She makes her seasonal bow in the mile handicap and Atzeni said: “She is a nice filly. She has a mark of 89 and if she goes there, I think she will have a really good chance.

“Her work has been really good. I actually rode her on Friday and I’m really looking forward to riding her.

“If we get a good draw in the round mile, I think she will be competitive.”

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