Craven winner Stormy Antarctic set for weekend reappearance
Last year's Craven winner Stormy Antarctic, the horse Ed Walker hopes can provide him with a breakthrough Group 1 victory, will warm up at Doncaster or Saint-Cloud next weekend in advance of a crack at the BMW Champions Mile at Sha Tin on May 8.
Owned by PK Siu, Stormy Antarctic failed to fire in the 2,000 Guineas after his Craven success, but was second in the Prix Jean Prat before running creditably in the Jacques le Marois and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
His Doncaster option is the Betway Doncaster Mile, but Walker is leaning towards the Group 3 Prix Edmond Blanc.
The trainer, who has also entered his stable star in the 1m2f Audemars Piguet QEII Cup a week before the Champion Mile, said: "I've put him in both races, but I don't really want to go ten furlongs. The mile division over there is pretty strong but I think we'll be going that way.
"He's in good shape though and is going to run next weekend either at Doncaster or in a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud the day after. He'll run in one of those and is in cracking form. He went to Kempton on Thursday for an away day and I'm super happy with him.
"I think I'd be more inclined to go to France, but we'll see what the entries are like. It'd be nice to get his head back in front as he hasn't won since the Craven."
George Baker would have ridden Stormy Antarctic, but suffered a serious head injury in a fall in Switzerland last month, so riding plans have yet to be finalised.
"It's a bit up in the air at the moment," Walker added. "Especially as in Hong Kong it'd be nice to have someone who has got experience there and in France. Someone like Christophe Soumillon would be fantastic, but the chances are he'll have a ride at Newmarket in the 1,000 Guineas that weekend so won't be able to make the trip. It's tricky, but we'll see."
Victory in Hong Kong for the four-year-old would cap a fine start to 2017 for Walker, who moved to Lambourn from Newmarket at the end of last year.
He has saddled 14 winners already this seasobn at a strike-rate of 30 per cent compared to 27 winners in the whole of last year.
"Things are going well and it's so far so good," he said. "We've not had anything fancy, but they all count and all the horses are in good form."