Dubai: Saeed Bin Surour is hoping for a resurgence in form from Hunter’s Light as he bids for a third success in the Group 2 York Stakes tomorrow.
The son of Dubawi faces 10 rivals in the 10-furlong contest which serves as a trial for the prestigious Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) at York’s Ebor meeting next month.
Hunter’s Light returns to action having run a below-par race in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, where he could finish only seventh behind Sea Moon. Prior to that he was a more competitive third to Carlton House in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.
However, Bin Surour, who won the York Stakes in 2009 with Kirlees and two years earlier with Stage Gift, is confident that Hunter’s Light can rediscover the form that saw him record four wins last season.
He is a 12-1 chance with most British bookmakers to win tomorrow, as Afsare and Planteur battle it out for the status of favourite.
Planteur, who Marco Botti saddled to finish third in the Dubai World Cup (G1) in March, was quite disappointing on his previous outing last month when he came seventh behind So You Think in the Group 1, 150th Anniversary of the Prince of Wales’ Stakes (British Champions Series).
Botti said: “He has been in good form since his run at Royal Ascot. He will have had a bit more time between races when he runs at the weekend, and I think that is what he wants. I think he is a horse who likes to be a little bit fresh, but he looks well and I have been happy with him.
“Let’s just hope he returns to his best. If he does, you would like to think he will go close on Saturday, because he has the class, and for me he is a Group 1 horse.”
Afsare comes into the race on the back of an easy win in the class 1 Ambant Gala Stakes at Sandown, where he beat Songcraft by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
The son of Dubawi is trained by Newmarket-based Luca Cumani, who said: “Afsare is in good form. He won his last race at Sandown well, but this is a stiffer test and hopefully he can run well.
“I have been very happy with his performances this year. He couldn’t do better than finishing second in a Group 1 and then winning at Sandown as well as he did.
“He would have a good chance if he can reproduce the form he has shown this year, but this is a strong race.”
Meanwhile, trainer Roger Varian said on his website that Sri Putra will wear a first-time hood, along with blinkers.
“Ground conditions at York should be much more to his liking than they were at Sandown,” he wrote.
“He’s in very good order and, on the pick of his form, he would have a good chance.”
At Ascot, the feature is the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes for two year-old fillies and eight have been declared.
Leading contenders look to be Richard Hannon’s Maureen and Michael Bell’s Hioyam.
Of the others, the once-raced Badr Al Badoor and Strange Magic are the ones to keep an eye on.