Better than ever: improved Eqtidaar ready for King Richard comeback
EBF Stallions King Richard III Stakes (Listed) | 7f | 4yo+ | ITV/RTV
Can Eqtidaar thrive for step up in trip?
Connections are relishing the start of a new campaign with Eqtidaar as last season's Commonwealth Cup winner steps up to seven furlongs for his seasonal debut.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt struggled after his Royal Ascot success last season, finishing unplaced in the July and Sprint Cups, but is reported to be in fine shape following his winter break.
Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, said: "He won well at Ascot last year but things didn't go right for him after, he didn't love the July course and the ground was bad at Haydock.
"Although he was a Group 1 winner, he always looked a physically immature horse so we left him alone for the winter. I saw him the other day and he looks much stronger and I believe everyone [at Sir Michael Stoute's yard] has been really happy with him."
The form of his half-length victory over Sands Of Mali in the Commonwealth Cup was boosted by the runner-up landing the Champion Sprint in October, and connections are hopeful Eqtidaar can progress into a leading light in his four-year-old season.
Gold added: "I'd love to think he can step forward this year. I don't see any reason why not, he looks a completely different horse to last year.
"We've always wanted to try him at seven furlongs so this will tell us if this is the right way to go or not. The ground looks fine but we wouldn't mind a drop of rain."
Can Hey Gaman make most of drop in class?
Hey Gaman enjoyed a productive season last year, highlighted by a neck second in the French 2,000 Guineas, and trainer James Tate is hopeful of a bold show on his return.
He said: "We know he's a good horse having finished second in the French Guineas last year. This race looked a nice starting point for him and he's always done well over a straight seven furlongs. Hopefully we'll get a little rain overnight and we're expecting a big run."
Hey Gaman has been campaigned in Group company since his last assignment at Listed level in the summer of 2017, when he won the Denford Stakes at Newbury.
What they say
Andrew Balding, trainer of Donjuan Triumphant
We're going to need a fair bit of rain to participate but he's in great form at home.
Joseph Tuite, trainer of Larchmont Lad
It's his first run for me. He seems a very straightforward horse at home, he works to a high level and I've been very happy with how things have been going. Everything looks perfect, we've got a good jockey [Jamie Spencer], but we wouldn't mind a bit of rain. I'm learning about him and we'll be a lot wiser after this.
Read The Briefing from 8.30am daily on racingpost.com with all the day's latest going, weather, market moves and non-runner news