Last year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas makes his return in the bet365 Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket, trying nine furlongs for the first time at a track he is yet to finish outside of the first three at.
It is the first time the son of Dubawi has run at Group Three level since landing the Craven Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago and Charlie Appleby will be hoping his four-year-old will be on his best behaviour having seen his season end in disappointing circumstances when fancied for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
He was withdrawn at the start on that occasion having reared in the stalls, but has been gelded in the interim and that could be the key to a successful four-year-old campaign which starts on home turf for the Moulton Paddocks inmate.
Appleby told the Godolphin website: “Master Of The Seas is a horse we haven’t seen since his antics at the Breeders’ Cup.
“His preparation has gone well and he’s been gelded since that start and I think the step up in trip will suit him.
“We’re looking forward to it (Craven meeting), it’s an exciting time of year and hopefully we can tick some boxes this week and roll into the Guineas meeting with the right horses.
“Conditions look there to suit and we are expecting a big run.”
Master Of The Seas is the clear favourite, while John and Thady Gosden’s Megallan will be looking to repeat the form that saw him edge out Sir Busker in the Group Three Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury last August. Last year’s Dante runner-up is rated the biggest danger to the market leader.
One intriguing runner in the line-up is Catch Twentytwo, who makes his debut for Jane Chapple-Hyam. The mount of Robert Tart has raced exclusively in South Africa so far, winning three of his 12 starts, and arrives via Mauritius from Mike de Kock.
The four-year-old will spend the summer with Chapple-Hyam before being reunited with De Kock, and the handler is looking forward to seeing how her new import gets on while in her care.
“He’s going to get a shock on the straight track at Newmarket, he’s going to be looking for the bends!” she said.
“He came to me because he was en route to Mike De Kock in Dubai and got held up in quarantine in Mauritius, Mike said to look after him for six months and give him a couple of runs and then he’ll go over to Mike.
“We felt that rather than sit and wait and go straight into Group Ones, we’d dip our toe in at Group Three and see how he gets on.”
Although a regular in graded company when racing in South Africa, Chapple-Hyam did add a note of caution to her assessment of the Elusive Fort gelding, but with her time with the horse limited, she is keen to get a run under his belt.
“Just bear in mind, a big open track at Newmarket probably isn’t the right call for him, we probably should be on a turning track, but it’s on our doorstep, two miles down the road and thought why not.
“He arrived on Christmas Eve, so he’s had time to get used to the wet and cold of England and he’s an interesting horse, he’s rated 116 and we’ve got to start somewhere,” said Chapple-Hyam.
Others to note include Andrew Balding’s track-and-trip winner Bells Rock and the Roger Varian-trained Father Of Jazz, who was beaten less than a length in the Magnolia Stakes at Kempton last month.