Halford hoping Toscanini can stake Jersey claims at Navan
After an uncharacteristically slow start to the turf campaign, Mick Halford could soon see a dramatic upturn in fortunes with high-calibre juveniles Toscanini and Raydara poised to reappear.
The Godolphin-owned Toscanini rounded off his juvenile campaign by finishing second to the 2,000 Guineas victor Gleneagles in the Group One Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh.
Successful at Dundalk previously, the Shamardal colt was never out of the first three in six starts, and he is engaged over five furlongs at Navan on Sunday.
Toscanini is also entered in the new six-furlong three-year-olds' Group One at Royal Ascot, but it is the Group Three Jersey Stakes over a furlong further that Halford has on his mind.
"He's in good form and he's ready to start off," the Co Kildare handler said of Toscanini.
"If he doesn't go there he will go to Naas on June 1. He has a choice of races there, a six-furlong race and a seven-furlong race. His main aim is the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot; his two-year-old form was very strong."
Like Godolphin supremo Sheikh Mohammed, the Aga Khan has staunchly backed Halford in recent years, and his Rock Of Gibraltar filly Raydara was another classy two-year-old for the stable last year. Twice a winner from four starts on fast ground, she beat the 1,000 Guineas runner-up Lucida when impressing in the Group Two Debutante Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh on her final outing last August.
"She's on target for the Irish 1,000 Guineas," Halford confirmed of Raydara.
"Hopefully we'll get her ground there, but she's in good form and we're happy with her. It's so far, so good. Her form last year stands up very well and we're looking forward to getting her going."
Halford also confirmed that stable stalwart Certerach is well on the road to recovery after an early hiccup.
The seven-year-old stayer won the Group Two Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan last spring, but suffered a setback when being prepared to defend that crown in March.
Second to Ernest Hemingway in the Curragh Cup last year, Certerach is again being aimed at the June 28 Group Three over a mile and six furlongs.
"He's back in full work now and we're very happy with him," Halford said of Certerach.
"We'll probably go for something like the Curragh Cup with him on Irish Derby weekend.
"That might be his first run back. He's sound as a bell and is in good form."