sport

Native in hunt for Bullet

Views from connections ahead of Saturday's Betfred Beverley Bullet.

Robert Cowell feels veteran sprinter Kingsgate Native has a good opportunity to open his account for the year in Saturday's Betfred Beverley Bullet.

It is over seven years since the son of Mujadil claimed Group One glory in the Nunthorpe as a two-year-old and he struck again at the highest level in the 2008 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since then, with Kingsgate Native retired to Cheveley Park Stud only to then return to racing.

And while it is stretching things to suggest he remains at the peak of his powers, the nine-year-old has run admirably in defeat this term.

Decent efforts behind the likes of Sole Power, Hot Streak and Extortionist suggest he remains eminently capable on his day, with Cowell keen to put a line through his last run at Glorious Goodwood.

The Cambridgeshire handler said: "He's been in great form since Goodwood.

"I don't think Goodwood is really his track as they go very quick there over five (furlongs) and as he's an older horse, they just got him a bit out of his comfort zone.

"He's been running well all year and if they go quickly at Beverley they should come back to him.

"I'm sure he'll be coming on strong at the finish."

Another horse having his sights significantly lowered is David Barron's Pearl Secret.

The Maunby handler has never made any secret of the fact he feels the five-year-old is the most talented sprinter he has trained, but a preference for ease in the ground and an injury setback last season has limited him to just 10 competitive appearances.

Pearl Secret disappointed when last seen in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot, but Barron is keeping his fingers crossed that he gets his favoured conditions.

A prominent showing could also earn him a tilt at the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday week.

Barron said: "I'd love to run him, as long as the ground isn't too quick.

"I'm fairly desperate to get a run into him, if I can, as he's ready to run and he's in good form at home.

"I'm really happy with him at the moment and as long as the ground is all right we'll have a go.

"The whole idea is to try to get him back on target for the following week."

Three-year-old filly Mecca's Angel has enjoyed an excellent campaign for trainer Michael Dods, bolting up at Thirsk and Hamilton before finishing fifth in a Maisons-Laffitte Listed event in May.

She has been kept away from the quicker ground in the summer and Dods is also praying for rain on the Westwood.

He said: "It's a tough race for a three-year-old, but she's well and there are no alternative races for her, really.

"We could do with a drop of rain. She's definitely better with a bit of juice in the ground and if it came up good to firm we probably wouldn't run her.

"We're happy with her at home and we're keen to get her out if we can."

Another trainer hoping for an ease in the ground is Rae Guest, who saddles Mirza, whose last three victories have come in Ireland and France.

"We're hoping they get some more rain," said the Newmarket handler.

"If it's good ground we'll probably take our chance, but we wouldn't want it any quicker, ideally.

"If the ground isn't in his favour it will be a shame as this looks a perfect race for him.

"The Abbaye at Longchamp is the plan, but if we d on't go to Beverley he's in the race he dead-heated in last year (Prix du Petit Couvert) and in the Flying Five at the Curragh in Ireland so he'll probably go for one of those first."

Willbeme has already struck over course and distance this year, as well as scoring at York.

Trainer Neville Bycroft, said: "She's been in smashing form and fast ground will suit her.

"I was very happy with her at York as she showed she can go well against good horses.

"This is just as tough, but she deserves to win a big one.

"She's won well at Beverley before, has a decent draw and we've got Silvestre (de Sousa) on again, so that's good."

Line Of Reason has done Paul Midgley proud this year with lucrative victories at the Curragh and York.

Midgley said: "I think he's worth a go at this level.

"Everything went wrong at York last time - we couldn't get any cover, and that was a big problem - but he still ran well.

"We've a nice draw and there should be plenty of pace on, as well.

"The key to him is the ground, though. If it stays dry, then it's happy days.

"It's not as competitive a race as it might have been, but hopefully he'll cope well with the step up in class."