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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Andrea Atzeni looking forward to Willie John facing a test of his potential

Willie John changed hands for 1,900,000 guineas at the Tattersalls February Sale
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Willie John, a one-time 2,000 Guineas contender who was in the betting for the Derby when suffering a setback in the spring, makes only his third appearance at Epsom on Monday in a contest that will provide another indication of his big-race potential.

The colt's owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum shelled out 1.9 million guineas to secure him after a winning start for William Haggas last year, and he earned a fraction of the sum back when he scored by five lengths on his debut for Roger Varian at Doncaster this month.

He now steps out of his own age group for an Epsom challenge in which he faces seasoned campaigners like Sovereign Debt and Gabrial plus Connect, a course-and-distance winner at the Derby meeting, in the Walter Nightingall Conditions Stakes (4.15) over a mile and a quarter.

Willie John's rider Andrea Atzeni said: "We're taking on the likes of Sovereign Debt, who is probably more of a miler, but he's won round there, and there's also Connect, but we're very happy with him.

Sovereign Debt: trainer Ruth Carr has been waiting for give in the ground
"He was very impressive at Doncaster. He's going up a level, which he obviously has to because we think a lot of him, but we're looking forward to seeing how he goes."

Sovereign Debt has run only once at the trip, but not yet on turf.

"We've been waiting for a bit of give in the ground," said trainer Ruth Carr. "He stays a mile well there and I don't see why he won't handle the trip in what is a lower class than he's been running in."

Dolphin Vista, the 2017 Cambridgeshire winner, makes his debut for Ralph Beckett, having had wind surgery since contesting the Lincoln for former trainer Martyn Meade.

"He likes a bit of juice in the ground," said Beckett. "He had a minor procedure on his wind a good two months ago. He's talented and I hope we have a productive autumn with him, which this race should help set up."

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He is going up a level, which he obviously has to because we think a lot of him
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