Al Aasy will stake his claim as a force to be reckoned with in Group 1 company this Friday with William Haggas’s colt heading the betting for the Coral Coronation Cup.
The first Group 1 of the fixture, which was rescheduled to Newmarket’s Guineas Festival last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, returns to the Downs for the 2021 renewal of the Derby Festival with the Sea The Stars son currently odds-on to win a first top-flight contest.
2019 Derby bronze medalist Japan is also set to feature, alongside Ballydoyle stable-mate Mogul with Aidan O’Brien represented by just a duo in the £330,000 race.
Duel Group 2 victor Pyledriver shed the cobwebs on the Rowley Mile and should strip fitter for that here, with owner Miss K Rausing holding a couple of potential ace cards in the form of Albaflora and Alpinista for Ralph Beckett and Sir Mark Prescott, repsectively.
Paul Cole’s Highland Chief, who won at Royal Ascot last season, completes the line up.
Talking about the favourite earlier this campaign, Haggas told Racing TV: “He needs racing, that horse, he didn’t race much last year.
“I don’t like carrying penalties in stakes races, but this race is a good fit – I don’t want to go further up in trip for the Yorkshire Cup and I think the Coronation Cup is the right race.
“He’s very powerful and everything is easy for him – we’ll see how good he is soon enough but at the moment he’s an impressive horse.”
There will be a tinge of disappointment that last year’s Oaks heroine Love will bypass a clash in Surrey in favour of Royal Ascot later this month.
Speaking to Sky Sports about his yard’s chances in the Coronation Cup, O’Brien said: “We’re very happy with Japan. We started him short last year and we think maybe it was too much pressure on him too early and his season kind of fell to bits after that.
“Everything is good with Love. She’s wintered well and has been ready to run for a while now.
“There were some Group Threes at the Curragh and places like that we would have liked to start her off in, but the ground was bad so we didn’t, which is why Broome filled those slots in.
“She’s ready to go. We could have ended up in the Coronation if we’d had a run, but we didn’t, so we’re thinking about Ascot with her for the Prince of Wales’s.