Connections of prolific all-weather performer Matterhorn believe he can show his star quality when he lines up in the Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.
The four-year-old was a revelation on synthetic surfaces over the winter, notching up seven wins – including a seven-length demolition of the high-class Wissahickon in the Easter Classic on All Weather Finals Day.
He made just his second start on turf when chasing home Forest Ranger in the Huxley Stakes at Chester – and Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father Mark, feels Matterhorn can perhaps topple Thursday’s likely favourite Regal Reality, who hails from the in-form Sir Michael Stoute yard.
He said: “I know we are biased, but we felt if you ran the race again at Chester, things would have panned out differently – and he quite possibly could have won.
“He was just in the wrong place as the race was developing. Forest Ranger got first run on him, and he was making ground all the way to the line.
“It was a good run and a nice run, in that it confirmed the horse is a Group-class horse on turf as well as on the all-weather. You would expect the testing conditions at Chester not to play to his strengths, so back on a quicker surface will be a help.
“You’ve got to respect the Stoute horse (Regal Reality), but I think he’s the one they have to beat.”
Danceteria will be making his first start for new co-owner Australian Bloodstock, after it was announced a deal had been struck with Clive Washbourn earlier this week.
A trip to Australia later in the year could now be the ultimate target for the four-year-old gelding, who delighted trainer David Menuisier when winning a nine-furlong Listed heat at Maisons-Laffitte last month.
He said: “He will be racing for new connections – it’s very exciting. The horse is in very good form, and I thought he did something very special at Maisons-Laffitte.
“He won his race over about 50 yards – and I know Mr (Andre) Fabre really fancied the second (Mer Et Nuages), so that looked a very good race.
“We’ve always thought a lot of this horse, and he has been training well since.”
Of Danceteria’s Australian aspirations, Menuisier added: “We are discussing things at the moment.
“I’m not quite sure what the plans are, but he could go for one of those big races in Australia.
“We don’t have to really work back from that point of the year until maybe August or September, so we will see what happens. He is entered in all the big races, and we think he could be up to that level.”
Six runners go to post, with Regal Reality seeking to give Stoute an 11th win in the race as he tackles 10 furlongs for the first time.
Andrew Balding’s Here Comes When, the James Fanshawe-trained Bombyx and Elwazir for Owen Burrows are all making their seasonal returns.
Here Comes When shoulders a 3lb penalty for a Haydock Group Three triumph in September and will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time in conditions that Balding admits may not be his optimum.
He said: “The ground is probably faster than ideal for him. But it will be safe ground there, and we need to get a run into him somewhere and somehow.
“The trip is further than ideal, but he wants to get out. He just had a little niggle, because he struck into himself a couple of months back – that is why he hasn’t been out sooner.
“We just want to get that run into him to make sure that when the rain does come, he will be ready to run on it. It’s a small field, but he is often keen on adrenaline first time out. It will be good just to get a run into him.”
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