Saturday: 2.15 Newbury
Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes (Group 3) | 5f | 3yo+ | ITV/RTV
Charlie Hills had high aspirations for Khaadem after his 2019 Stewards' Cup rout – some even compared him to champion sprinter Battaash.
However, instead of progressing as predicted he suffered a barren 25-month spell, in which he was beaten on ten consecutive occasions in races ranging from conditions events to Group 1s.
In all bar one of those contests the Shadwell-owned sprinter was sent off at 15-2 or shorter – it's fair to say he hasn't been a punter's pal.
However, by finishing fourth in the 2020 July Cup and Diamond Jubilee there were clear signs that Khaadem hadn't completely regressed since his three-year-old season, and it wasn't until the first day of this month's St Leger meeting when he was dropped to the minimum 5f trip that he was finally rewarded.
Khaadem broke the Doncaster course record (57.30s) with a sensational gate-to-wire success, and with Hills reaching for the blinkers again a similar performance would make the revitalised sprinter tough to pass. This season both Suesa (King George) and Oxted (King's Stand) have proved that dropping down from 6f to 5f can be lucrative.
Khaadem and Tis Marvellous are the joint top-rated on 109 in this field and the latter, who finished second in this race last year and enters this edition on the back of two impressive successes, rates a leading player. King's Lynn and Moss Gill are 1lb lower in the ratings having both contested Group 1s this year. Moss Gill is fitted with first-time blinkers, which could be the catalyst to an improved display given he often lacks early zip.
Three-year-olds have won three of the last nine runnings of this race, a statistic that will be boosted if either Atalis Bay or Significantly causes a minor upset. With just a 1lb weight-for-age allowance at this point of the season, they will need a career-best to feature.
That leaves Hurricane Ivor, who produced a Group-class performance to win the Portland off top weight last weekend. Formerly trained in France, this son of Ivawood is yet to reach his ceiling and should be suited by the slight drop in trip.
Tis a whizz for Cox
Clive Cox has trained better sprinters than Tis Marvellous, but not many can hold as special a place in his heart as the admirable seven-year-old, who is on a hat-trick after a Shergar Cup success and bagging the Beverley Bullet.
A Group 2 winner in the Prix Robert Papin as a juvenile, Tis Marvellous has been in training for six seasons and has amassed £307,150 in prize-money along with seven wins, which Cox is optimistic could soon be eight.
"He's had an amazing season and to win the Beverley Bullet in course-record time was very satisfying," he said. "He's continued in that form and while he's got good form on stiffer tracks, he's not short of pace. I'm confident he'll bring his consistent best again."
What they say
William Haggas, trainer of Hurricane Ivor
He's really well. He won at Doncaster last Saturday, and I'm usually wary of running them again so quickly. However, he had two runs in a week during the summer – at Sandown and Ascot – and I thought his best performance was on the second occasion. That gives me hope. He's in great form, and that's particularly important with sprinters.
Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to Shadwell Estate Company Ltd, owner of Khaadem
He was really good at Doncaster, it was the true Khaadem. He won a Stewards' Cup and has run really well in Group 1 races over six furlongs, but he showed so much speed in blinkers at Newmarket the time before, and we always knew he had speed. He's won on easier ground and is by Dark Angel, but wouldn't want it soft, so hopefully it dries to good, fast ground.
Ed Bethell, trainer of Moss Gill
It's a wide-open race, with four or five of the runners separated by a pound or two on official ratings. Moss Gill is in good form, and takes a drop in class. I hope he runs a big race.
Marco Botti, trainer of Atalis Bay
He's in good order, but ideally wants good ground, so hopefully it dries out and Newbury misses any rain. He ran well with a big weight in a handicap last time and is a very fast horse who seems to run five furlongs at one pace, so the level track should suit.
Karl Burke, trainer of Significantly
He handles softer ground, but we'll take our chance and he's come out of the Flying Five really well. This race comes a bit quick after the Curragh and I might have preferred to come straight here, but we paid our money for Ireland and he ran very well from a bad draw. I'm convinced he's a Group horse, whether he's a Group 1 sprinter I'm not sure.