Stockholm Cup International (Group 3) | 1m4f | 3yo+ | RUK
The prize-money is up, and so too is the away team, with British-based trainers David Menuisier and Marco Botti saddling runners in Sunday's 1m4f Stockholm Cup International at Bro Park in Sweden.
The star of the show on a card being shown live on Racing UK could be Menuisier's Thundering Blue, who delighted his growing army of fans last time with a gutsy third in the Juddmonte International Stakes – the only horse in the York line-up without a Group 1 win to his name in a stellar field of eight.
Clive Washbourn's five-year-old drops back to Group 3 company in the SEK1,400,000 (£122,000/€135,000) highlight at Bro Park and is the mount of Fran Berry.
Menuisier, whose stable star finished midfield in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap in June on his previous run over the distance, said on Saturday: "He seems in good form. He was a bit on his toes after travelling but this morning he was much better and hopefully he hasn't lost too much of his mojo from the journey.
"We wanted to tick the box of travelling, and the mile and a half trip. It's not a walk in the park as you have to respect the local horses, they know the track. He still needs to run not far off his best so it's a good test."
Botti's runner Crowned Eagle is the second he has sent to Bro Park, having finished fourth with Brandybend in a Listed race last October. Daniel Muscutt was in the saddle that day and has ridden Crowned Eagle on his last five starts, but champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa takes the reins this time.
"He's in good form," said Botti. "He ran well last time out in the Ebor but probably didn't quite stay, so we're dropping back to a mile and a half. Thundering Blue is the standout and is rated quite high.
"Crowned Eagle has been consistent, Silvestre's riding and we're likely to get good ground, so we're hoping for a good run."
Last year's race was a strictly Scandinavian affair, won by Swedish trainer Lennart Reuterskiold Jr and Dorcia. Neither trainer, horse nor winning jockey Per-Anders Graberg are back to defend their title, but Norwegian-based runner-up Bokan returns for Wido Neuroth, who also saddles Pas De Secrets, winner of a 1m2½f Listed race here in November.
Archie Watson has two runners on the undercard, juvenile Izvestia in the conditions race and Corinthia Knight.
Three-year-old Corinthia Knight is well-travelled already this season. A Listed victory at Chantilly was the third leg of a four-race winning streak early in the year, but a journey to Maisons-Laffitte and trans-Atlantic trip to Woodbine for the Grade 1 Highlander Stakes failed to reap further reward. He lines up alongside the Hugo Palmer-trained Never Back Down.
Also in action are the Jim Boyle-trained Hateya in the Listed Lanwades Stud Stakes and the Mick Appleby-trained Big Country in the Listed Tattersalls Nickes Minneslopning. He finished third at Ovrevoll in Norway last month.