Ed Walker has grand designs for Doncaster Mile contender Stormy Antarctic

Fri 31 Mar 2017

Ed Walker has his sights fixed on a trip to Hong Kong with Stormy Antarctic if he can get his season off to "the perfect start" in the Betway Doncaster Mile.

Winner of the Craven last season, he then went on to finish second to the excellent Zelzal in the Prix Jean Prat.

Not disgraced in the Prix Jacques le Marois nor in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes after that, Stormy Antarctic faces a big drop in class on his seasonal reappearance.

"So far this year he has had a good preparation," said Walker.

"He looks a picture and has done well physically from three to four. We are really excited getting him back.

"He did a piece of work at Kempton last week and he behaved really well. The aim of this is just to drop him back in class to try get his head in front before stepping him back up again.

"I think he has been slightly pigeon-holed as a soft-ground horse as he has done well on it.

"But apart from the Craven, his other best performance was in the Jean Prat and that was quick ground that day so I think he is pretty versatile."

The Newmarket handler added on his website, www.edwalkerracing.com: " Should he win he will then head to Hong Kong for the Champions Mile on May 7, which will be an enormously exciting challenge.

"He has some exceptional form in the book, not beaten far by the likes of Zelzal, Ribchester and Minding last year, so I am hoping that he can get his season off to the perfect start."

Andrew Balding's Tullius may now be nine but there was no sign of his powers being on the wane last season.

He beat Decorated Knight in the Diomed Stakes at Epsom and given his preferred conditions, which he gets on Town Moor, he is always a force to be reckoned with in this grade.

Sam Hoskins, racing manager for his owners, Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, said:"He's really well. He ran a great race at the end of last season when he was very unlucky in the Balmoral Handicap (at Ascot).

"He's nine years old now but is showing all the enthusiasm he has always done so we're cautiously optimistic.

"It might take a young improver to beat him, but he sets a good standard and hopefully he should be somewhere in the shake-up."

Another rock-solid performer over the last few seasons is David O'Meara's Custom Cut.

He was winless last season but ran plenty of good races in defeat, the pick of which when second to Irish Guineas hero Awtaad in the Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown.

"He's a good old favourite of ours and he's back again. His winter has gone well and it's a nice starting point for him," said O'Meara.

"He doesn't have to carry a penalty this year, so that will be a help.

"He's a year older but he's in good form."

Godolphin run two, with William Buick riding Charlie Appleby's Cymric after his spell in Dubai.

"He ran some good races last season and he's a nice horse," Buick told At The Races.

"He's in good shape. He won a handicap at Meydan and was then third in a competitive Group Two, just pipped for second.

"He's seems to have travelled back really well, so we'll see."

Godolphin's other runner is Toscanini, who has joined Richard Fahey, principally to act as Ribchester's pacemaker later in the season.

Roger Varian's filly Dawn Of Hope takes on the boys with Andrea Atzeni in the saddle.

"Dawn Of Hope is in super form at home and she looks ready to run a big race," the Newmarket handler told www.varianstable.co.uk.

"She was entered in the Group Three Park Express Stakes at Naas last Sunday, but we didn't want to run her on holding ground, so we decided to wait a week and these conditions look her optimum.

"She was a Listed winner in Deauville last year, for which she carries a 3lb penalty, and she has plenty to find with all of the field on official ratings as she takes on the colts for the first time.

"However, she looks to have improved again over the winter and this will give us a good idea of her ability and how we should campaign her for the rest of the year."

John Gosden runs Crazy Horse and Castle Harbour, with Big Baz, Dark Emerald and Kool Kompany completing the field.

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