Integral can bolster Sir Michael Stoute’s exceptional record in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. The Newmarket handler is already the winning-most trainer of the coveted Group 1, having claimed seven triumphs in the race.
Stoute now looks on hand to add to his haul with Integral, the only mare in the 18-runner field.
That she takes on the colts and geldings has to be a slight concern, of course, but recent history indicates that might not be too big a deal.
Three fillies and mares in the last 11 years have won the Lockinge, two of which – Peeress and Russian Rhythm – were trained by Stoute and sport the same Cheveley Park silks as Integral.
The daughter of Dalakhani deserves to be bracketed alongside those fine thoroughbreds after she added further resonance to her profile last season with Group One victories in the Falmouth and the Sun Chariot.
Integral was never a factor on her last start as a four-year-old, when unplaced in the QEII on Champions Day, but the ground was ridiculously demanding that day.
She likes to get her toe in, but it was too much for her against some of Europe’s finest, especially as the race came just a fortnight after her Sun Chariot triumph.
Having reportedly made good progress over the winter, Stoute’s decision to head direct for the Lockinge, before presumably taking in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, can be vindicated in a race which should hold no terrors.
The Al Rayyan Stakes, or the Aston Park, as it is more commonly known, revolves around the much-discussed Telescope, but perhaps Scotland could throw a bit of a curveball for trainer Andrew Balding.
The four-year-old threatened to win a big prize last year, but he always fell short in Pattern company and signed off with a horror show in the St Leger.
Scotland has since been gelded, though, and that appeared to have done the trick judged by his promising return in the John Porter over course and distance in April.
Balding’s inmate stayed on pleasingly to finish fifth, beaten just two and a half lengths, and it will be most interesting to see how he gets on dipping into Listed company.
He represents sound value against the market leader.
William Buick has a fine book of rides at Newmarket, with Elidor expected to go very well in the mazerattan.com Handicap.
The Mick Channon-trained five-year-old rarely loses by far in good company and should warmly welcome the return to a mile and three-quarters.
Elidor was a beaten favourite in a warm affair at Thirsk last month, but a crawling pace and early keenness hardly helped his cause.
Be that as it may, Channon’s representative lost out by only a length and three-quarters and can nibble away at that deficit now he steps back up in distance.
The gelded son of Cape Cross is hardly a lurker in the handicap, but he is a solid horse with plenty of boot and should let no-one down.
Half A Billion made a perfectly fine reappearance at Catterick last month and will be a bit sharper for the experience at Doncaster.
Michael Dods’ six-year-old was unable to boss proceedings quite as connections might have hoped at the North Yorkshire venue, but he still lost out by under two lengths.
Suitably refreshed for that run, Half A Billion races 1lb lower than when he won the six-furlong Caviars of Bawtry Handicap two years ago.
Kaine Keira looks a tempter on his first stab in a handicap at Thirsk.
The Paul Midgley-trained three-year-old raised his game quite significantly in a Wetherby maiden in April, finishing fourth and beaten four lengths, to suggest a mark of 63 can be exploited in the racinguk.com Handicap.
Furrows can claim top honours in the Sir Stanley Clarke Memorial Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter.
Oliver Sherwood’s 10-year-old is only just returning from a two-year hiatus, so is only going to get better this summer.
He also looks to have a bit in hand over the assessor on his best form.
Mor Brook is the pick for Kim Bailey in the Bet With CorbettSports Handicap Chase at Bangor.