Cox happy ahead of Middle Park
Clive Cox was reassured by an advance inspection of the ground at Newmarket ahead of Saturday's Vision.ae Middle Park Stakes.
In a race which looks just as exciting as the Dewhurst on the same card, Cox has seen his regular jockey Adam Kirby opt to partner Marco Botti's Moohaajim instead of his unbeaten colt Reckless Abandon.
But the Lambourn trainer has been able to call upon the French maestro Gerald Mosse, who rode Reckless Abandon when Kirby was suspended for the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte and kept the mount when he finished ahead of Moohaajim in the Group One Prix Morny at Deauville.
The most testing ground Reckless Abandon has encountered was on good to soft in the Norfolk Stakes, when he took a rather wayward path across the track, but any fears of deep going on the Rowley Mile amid the recent rain has been allayed.
"I was very relieved when I walked the course on Thursday, there's a drying breeze in Newmarket and I hope it stays that way without too much rain," said Cox.
"It's a big day for us and I've been very happy with him since the Morny. He's had plenty of time between his races and he's in good order.
"I hope the dip won't be a problem to him as he is very well balanced. It is the first time he will encounter anything like that on the track so we don't honestly know, but he handles and manages himself very well."
Reckless Abandon is trading about a point ahead of Moohaajim, with the two at the top of the betting, but Cox said: "No Group One is ever a match, you've got to respect any horse which is given a chance in this kind of race."
Moohaajim finished just over two lengths behind in Deauville on what was only his second start after a victory in an Ascot maiden.
The son of Cape Cross did not enjoy the clearest of runs that day and went on to post a most impressive victory in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
"He won his maiden well and because of lack of options we had to go straight for a Group One in the Morny, it was a tough race for him and things didn't quite pan out as we wanted," said Botti.
"He ran a good race, didn't finish far away in fifth, and we thought he would improve again."
Botti chose the Middle Park over six furlongs ahead of the Dewhurst at seven, and said: "He has shown speed at Newbury, I wasn't concerned about stepping up to seven, but he would face Dawn Approach in the Dewhurst over a stiff seven, so it was a sensible plan.
"He ran well and travelled well at six at Newbury. Obviously Reckless Abandon will be the favourite, he's unbeaten and done nothing wrong this year but we weren't beaten far in France despite not getting the best run and we hope to give him a race."
Kirby, who had to make the choice between his two strongest stables, said: "He (Moohaajim) obviously didn't get a fair crack of the whip in France. Let's just hope it's a clean-run race on Saturday and we'll find out who is the best.
"They are two completely different horses, but both very special.
"I'd rather they were running in completely different races, but they're not and I decided on Moohaajim.
"It should be a really exciting race."
Crusade came out on top of a couple of Aidan O'Brien runners last year and this time Ballydoyle send over three, with Coventry Stakes third Cristoforo Colombo out to make amends for slipping up in the Phoenix Stakes. Gale Force Ten and Parliament Square also challenge for the stable, while Richard Hannon sending out Master Of War again after his defeat to Moohaajim at Newbury.
The trainer is realistic, and told www.richardhannon.co.uk: "Master of War deserves his shot at a Group One, having finished second in a couple of Group Twos, but we know that it will be tough trying to turn the form around with Moohaajim in the Middle Park.
"He beat us fair and square in the Mill Reef at Newbury, but it is the obvious race for our fellow and you have got to give it a go."
Kevin Ryan runs the speedy Hototo and the unbeaten Blaine, who beat Mark Johnston's runner Heavy Metal in the Gimcrack at York.