Ertijaal bids to enhance record
Hopes are high for Ertijaal ahead of Friday's 32Red All-Weather 3 Year Old Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield.
The Oasis Dream colt looked to have a bright future when he ran Toormore, who went to become Europe's champion two-year-old to a neck when both made their debuts at Leicester in May.
He went on to win his maiden at Yarmouth by six lengths in June, but did not run again in 2013.
Trainer William Haggas got him back on the track four weeks ago in a fast-track qualifier for this race which he managed to win despite being drawn on the wide outside in stall 13, and he is still engaged in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
"He was coming off a long break, he was drawn badly and he was going to need it for more experience," said Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
"Although he wasn't visually impressive, we felt he did it well enough considering Paul (Hanagan) had to make use of him early from that draw.
"Everyone involved with him feels he's come on a lot from that at home.
He's got a better draw (four), so we'll see how we go. You'd like to think there'd be more improvement to come. We've always felt he was a Group horse and he was beaten by the champion two-year-old (Toormore) last year in his maiden.
"He won his maiden (at Yarmouth) impressively, then he got held up with a minor problem. You never saw him again, but we always thought he was a good horse and this is another step."
American Hope was just a head behind Ertijaal in that race which puts him in there with solid claims.
However, he has had another race since then when a close-up last of three to Bow Creek at the Surrey venue and the prospect of another quick run concerns his trainer Mike Murphy.
"We're pleased with him. Our only reservation is he's had three quick runs," said the Bedfordshire handler.
"That would be the only negative, if we had any more time between the races we'd be a lot more confident."
The Mark Johnston-trained Lady Frances heads to Lingfield on the back of a below-par effort on this course in February, but connections feel they have to let her take her chance.
"She won at Wolverhampton but was a little bit disappointing last time out. She's rated 95 now and as she was guaranteed a run we'd be daft to go anywhere else," Johnston's son Charlie told At The Races.
"She could be competitive. These races are difficult and there are a couple in there who on the figures have got a bit in hand on the rest of the field, but she's in good form and will run her race, hopefully."