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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Is Stoute's Midterm back to his best after below-par comeback?

Across The Stars won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last year but has not run in 2017
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1.50 Newbury
Al Rayyan Stakes (Group 3) | 1m4f, 4yo+ | ITV/RUK

There are plenty of questions to answer in the opener at Newbury, not least 'what is the Al Rayyan Stakes?'

It's a race known until the current sponsorship deal as the Aston Park, a contest for older horses promoted to Group 3 status last year and used as a stepping-stone by high-class performers such as Gamut, Persian Punch and Telescope in the past.

Will the other questions be so easy to find answers to?

Across The Stars showed smart form for Sir Michael Stoute last summer but why has he not run this year?

Owner Saeed Suhail's racing manager Bruce Raymond said: "He was going to go for the Sheema Classic but he got a temperature just as we were going to load him so he didn't go.

"Then he was going to go for the Jockey Club Stakes and he got a temperature again. It only lasts a few day and it doesn't affect his work. The soft ground won't be a problem and he's got a good chance."

Is stablemate Midterm back to his best after a below-form reappearance?

Owner Khalid Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said: "He's come out of his last race well and he's kicked on, his work is never exuberant but he's in good nick. He is visored for the first time to help him concentrate a bit."

Why is Chemical Charge visored for the first time too? 

Trainer Ralph Beckett said: "He is visored as we want to help him concentrate, we just want to focus his mind on the job. He hit the front too soon last time."

My Dream Boat: tries a mile and a half for the first time
Will last year's Prince Of Wales's Stakes winner My Dream Boat stay this trip?

Trainer Clive Cox said: "We're looking forward to stepping him up to a mile and a half. The way he finishes his races we would be hopeful that he would get it but we need to confirm it.

"He's in good form and we're delighted with him, it was a pleasing first run back at Sandown and he will be very much at home on the soft ground."

Hawkbill (left) beating The Gurkha in the Coral-Eclipse
What about 2016 Coral-Eclipse winner Hawkbill's stamina?

Trainer Charlie Appleby said: "Stepping back up in trip is going to suit him and he should get his favoured soft ground at Newbury. I felt that he saw the mile and a half out well when he ran in Germany at the end of last season.

"He just got out-sprinted last time out - it was a typical French race in that they went steady and then it turned into a sprint whereas Hawkbill is a galloper. This is a tough race but he should be a live contender."

The way he finishes his races we would be hopeful that he would get it but we need to confirm it
E.W. Terms
Sky bet