O'Brien on War-Footing for Lockinge assault
Joseph O'Brien admits Declaration Of War faces by far the stiffest test of his career in tomorrow's JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
The winner of five of his six starts to date, the four-year-old is jumping up in class from winning a Listed race on his reappearance, although he did win a Group Three contest at Dundalk last October.
That leaves him with plenty to find on the figures for this prestigious race but he has been heavily backed all week with the expectancy that he will handle the rise in grade in his stride.
Aidan O'Brien has several options in all the middle-distance Group Ones this summer, but a victory for Declaration Of War could make him the go-to horse for the main events.
His jockey said: "He's progressed through the ranks steadily since he joined us and he's been very good.
"This is his biggest test by far, though.
"He won over one-mile-three at Dundalk but he won over a mile in France before he joined us and then won over a mile at Leopardstown last time out, he's very versatile regarding his trip.
"The quicker the ground the better for him, I think, because his best performance for us was at Dundalk. He met plenty of trouble that day and did really well to win.
"If he were to win this he'd had plenty of options for the rest of the season because he's already shown he stays further than this."
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor hopes Farhh can break his Group One duck.
After winning the Thirsk Hunt Cup last year, Godolphin's five-year-old was second in four Group Ones, twice behind Frankel.
"Last time out he finished second in France, but he picked up a problem. He got a small chip in his ankle which needed surgery and that his why he hasn't run since," said Bin Suroor.
"He wintered here as there was no race for him in Dubai anyway. He's been working nicely since I've been back.
"He was second in four Group Ones, twice behind Frankel, so he's shown his class. He will need the race on Saturday but he's in good condition, he's happy and fresh and has the class so he should run well.
"We'll see how he gets on, but he'll probably step up to 10 furlongs at Royal Ascot for the Prince of Wales's Stakes."
Cityscape is, like Frankel, owned by Khalid Abdullah, which meant the pair were kept apart last season.
Because of the mighty colt's presence in all the top mile races last year, Roger Charlton's 2012 Dubai Duty Free winner had to travel around the world searching for success.
With Frankel retired, Cityscape now has the luxury of staying at home.
"On official ratings he's the best miler in Europe. Obviously there's a few new kids on the block this year like Declaration Of War, so he'll need to maintain his form," said Charlton.
"It was a miraculous performance when he won the Duty Free. James Doyle gave him an inspirational ride and everything went to plan.
"He then ran against Excelebration a couple of times and I think I'm right in saying he had the highest rating of any horse Aidan O'Brien has ever trained so there was no disgrace in losing to him.
"It's probably unlikely that he'll ever reproduce his Duty Free run.
"We tried him over 10 furlongs in the Eclipse and I was hopeful going there. It may not have been the best place to try him with the stiff finish, but we can't take him to an undulating track either.
"He didn't get the trip, quite clearly, though, so we'll stick to a mile probably."
German raider Amaron has a Group One win to his name already, in the Premio Vittorio di Capua in Italy.
Trainer Andreas Lowe said: "He wasn't 100% fit when he finished third in a Group Three in Paris last month.
"He is very fit now and I'm in a good mood about the race but I recognise how hard it will be to win."
David O'Meara's Penitent has had his last three races in France, Dubai and Hong Kong but runs in Britain for the first time since winning the Joel Stakes at Newmarket.
"He's been a great horse for us and he seems to be running to a similar level again this year, albeit abroad both times, but there's plenty of life left in Penitent yet," O'Meara told At The Races.
"Things didn't go his way in Hong Kong but he only just finished out of the money. He was a bit slower away than the local horses and got shoved a bit wide.
"He's entered in the Queen Anne but he does want a bit of cut in the ground."
Richard Hannon won successive renewals of this race with Paco Boy and Canford Cliffs before Frankel's cakewalk last year, and this time runs Trumpet Major and Libranno.
"Trumpet Major goes into the race on a high, having won the Sandown Mile comprehensively, and, like Libranno, who ran a creditable fourth in the same race, we think that he has tightened up for the race," the Wiltshire handler told www.richardhannonracing.co.uk.
Roger Varian runs Aljamaaheer, who has always been highly regarded but has yet to really live up to his home reputation.
"Aljamaaheer has come on a lot for his debut run. His work is always good at home and, although he has a bit to find on the figures, I am confident that there is a big run in him," the Newmarket handler told his website, www.varianstable.com.
"He wouldn't want the ground to go too soft so we shall be monitoring the weather closely."