Grey aiming to hit hat-trick
Marco Botti feels Grey Mirage may still be ahead of the assessor as he goes in search of a hat-trick in the Freebets.co.uk Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday.
Having shown promise as a juvenile, the Oasis Dream colt ran out an impressive winner on his return to competitive action at Kempton in late March, and sluiced through the Sandown mud to follow up on his handicap debut.
Botti said: "I've been very happy with him since Sandown and we think he might have progressed since then. We think he is still on a good mark so we decided to give him one more run in a handicap and hopefully he will run very well. There is rain forecast but we know cut in the ground will not be a problem for him."
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Mawasem finished down the field in the Wood Ditton Stakes at Newmarket on his introduction, before justifying favouritism at Kempton, and a big run this weekend could book the three-year-old a trip to Royal Ascot.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: "He won nicely at Kempton and Sir Michael has just been deciding whether to stay at a mile or step up to a mile and a quarter. He feels at this stage he probably has enough speed for the mile and we want to see if he could be a horse for the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"The ground is obviously going to be a bit of an unknown. But looking at the long-range forecast, he's might have to be able to handle soft ground if he's going to go to Ascot."
Mark Johnston is unsure what to expect from Assizes, who looked a smart recruit when making a winning debut at Newbury on his sole juvenile appearance, but ran with far less promise on his Haydock return.
Johnston said: "The horse has only run twice in his life, so I've no idea what ground he wants. I've no idea how much rain they've had at Doncaster, but it has done nothing but rain here (in Middleham) for the last 24 hours. If it's as soft as I suspect it will be, it's going to be pot luck who handles it."
Richard Hannon is hoping the return to an softer surface will help Mister Music put a disappointing run at Epsom on Derby day behind him. The champion trainer also saddles Shamaal Nibraas.
Hannon told his website, www.richardhannonracing.tv: "Mister Music did not enjoy the firm ground at Epsom last week and should run better in these easier conditions. Shamaal Nibras belied his odds of 25-1 when running a stormer the last time he went up to Town Moor and he could be right there, too."
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