Ground clouds Temple picture
Last Updated: 23/05/14 4:31pm
Robert Cowell believes Kingsgate Native has an "outstanding chance" of claiming his third victory Betfred.com Temple Stakes at Haydock on Saturday, provided conditions are suitable.
The nine-year-old clinched this Group Two prize in 2010 when trained by Sir Michael Stoute and having regained his crown 12 months ago, Cowell is hoping the track misses the worst of the rain ahead of his return to Merseyside.
Although the Mujadil gelding is not getting any younger, he showed the fire still burns bright when narrowly beaten by Sole Power in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket three weeks ago and the pair are due to lock horns again.
Cowell said: "He's in great form, but he'll only run if conditions are suitable. We wouldn't want a lot of rain.
"If the ground is right for him, I think he must have an outstanding chance. Wherever Sole Power finishes we'll either be a little bit behind him or a little bit in front of him, but I don't think we'll be far away."
While many of his rivals are warming up for a tilt at one of the big sprints at Royal Ascot next month, Cowell admits this is Kingsgate Native's "big day".
"We haven't even entered him for Royal Ascot as the last couple of times he's been there he hasn't run very well and I don't think the track suits him," said the trainer.
"We know he loves Haydock, so tomorrow is his big day and we can consider other objectives after that."
Kingsgate Native is one of a number of horses whose participation in the Haydock feature remains a little unclear due to the weather.
Sole Power, winner of this race in 2011, has made the journey from Ireland once again, but his preference for fast ground is well documented.
Like Cowell, trainer Eddie Lynam is hoping conditions do not deteriorate further.
"The horse has travelled over well and is absolutely A1 and we'll just have to see what happens with the weather," said Lynam.
"He's not the same horse with cut in the ground, but he's a seven-year-old gelding and he ran well in the Nunthorpe last year on slow ground to be third and was also third on slower ground in the King's Stand as a five-year-old.
"He probably runs to about 80 per cent of his ability. It's a case of where do I draw the line.
"I don't want to bottom him with Royal Ascot on the horizon."
In contrast, the Qatar Racing team are hoping to see plenty of ease in conditions to allow Hot Streak and Pearl Secret line up over the flying five furlongs.
The Kevin Ryan-trained Hot Streak performed superbly for a three-year-old when third in the Palace House, with David Barron's Pearl Secret further back in eighth.
However, with Royal Ascot just around the corner, connections will not risk the pair this weekend if the ground is deemed too fast.
Kevin Darley, an advisor for Qatar Racing, walked the track on Friday and said: "I think it's going to go to the wire.
"I walked the course before racing and it walked like genuine good to firm ground.
"Then they got a deluge of rain before the first race and it lasted for about 20 minutes before the sun came out again.
"There is more rain forecast and if they get it, I think it will get into the ground.
"We're in the lap of the gods."
Speaking on Friday morning, David Redvers, racing manager for Qatar Racing, said: "They are two horses who would have massive chances, but we're not prepared to risk them if it's not suitable.
"Pearl Secret can handle fast ground, but after the accident he had on the horse walker last year where he suffered a nasty splint bone injury, he is too good a horse to risk.
"Kevin (Ryan) is very happy with Hot Streak, he's come on a lot for the run at Newmarket and he thinks he's possibly the best horse he's ever trained."
Jim Goldie's stable stars Hawkeyethenoo and Jack Dexter are regulars in Group sprints these days but both disappointed in the Duke of York last time out.
"They both disappointed at York and I've done all the tests to see if I could find a reason why they shouldn't have run, but I haven't found anything," said Goldie.
"They seem well. They've been down at the veterinary college and have had full MOTs and they seem fine.
"It was disappointing how they ran but hopefully they'll bounce back."
Roger Varian's Justineo, the David Elsworth-trained Justice Day, Mirza from Rae Guest's yard and David O'Meara's Smoothtalkinrascal complete the 10-strong field.