Ed Walker is hopeful that Came From The Dark can earn himself a crack at the top level with a winning return at Sandown on Saturday in the Coral Charge.
The five-year-old was pencilled in to tackle the top sprinters around in the King’s Stand at Ascot, but a mystery ailment means he skipped his Royal engagement for a trip to Esher.
“He came out of his Newmarket race fine when he was unlucky in the Palace House, but then a week later he was really quite lame and we were worried that he potentially had a fracture,” Walker told Tote.
“All the tests came back clear so we just took our time with him. He missed a bit of training while we were trying to figure out what had gone wrong, but then he pretty quickly came back sound, so we never really got to the bottom of it.”
“He’s been training very well since then, but I just felt that it would be a bit reckless going to Ascot after that, so we’ve taken the patient approach and hopefully that pays off.”
In lining up for Sandown’s Group 3, the grey will resume his rivalry with Godolphin’s Lazuli, who prevailed by a neck in the Palace House, with Walker’s runner suffering a troubled passage.
With a clearer run this time, the Lambourn handler is hoping to get the better of Charlie Appleby’s runner this time and a wide draw, something not always preferable at the venue might help that.
“Given the interference, he should be able to reverse the form with Lazuli,” Walker said.
“Sandown is not a straightforward track though and you need a lot of luck in those sprints, more than you do elsewhere.
“Being drawn in 9 probably helps his chances of getting a smooth passage in the race without having to faff around too much.”
Win on Saturday, and Walker has bigger plans with the gelding, though exactly where he goes is still slightly up in the air.
“If he were to win this I’d be tempted to have a crack at the Nunthorpe with him, although the other option is the Flying Five in Ireland.
“Further down the line, the Sprint Cup has to come into the equation as he loves Haydock, but only if he is able to prove he is that calibre.”
Robert Cowell’s Arecibo looks to be the one they all have to beat on Saturday. Do that, and it puts Came From The Dark into Group 1 class in Walker’s mind.
“Arecibo ran a massive race in the King’s Stand and was arguably unlucky, although I don’t think he would have beaten Oxted, but that’s proper Group 1 form.
“If Came From The Dark is to beat him off level weights, in my mind he has to prove himself to be a Group 1 horse. If he comes through this on Saturday, then he deserves a shot at Group 1 company.”
Two other Ascot absentees set for Newmarket
Top class company will definitely be on the agenda for two David Ward-owned horses trained at Kingsdown Stables, with late Coronation Stakes scratching Primo Bacio on course for the Falmouth.
“She’s in great order. She’s looking, moving and training really well and I’m really looking forward to seeing her run.
“It was frustrating to miss Ascot but I think we made the right call.”
This will be the Awtaad filly’s first crack at Group races after an impressive win in the Michael Seeley Memorial at York in May, but her handler thinks she has enough ability to warrant her place.
“You could say that stepping up into a Group 1 company from a Listed race is a massive step-up, but when you see the race panning out like it is with Creative Flair winning a Listed race at Newbury and then Snow Lantern running a massive race at Ascot to finish second in the Coronation Stakes, that gives you confidence that you’re not jumping too much.”
Primo Bacio could clash with the latter again on the July Course, while Alcohol Free, who was the winner of the race at Ascot, could also be in attendance.
Also on course for Newmarket is Starman, who was taken out of the Diamond Jubilee because of the ground.
He’ll get a better surface here, but it looks as though he could have a much tougher field of opponents at HQ.
“He worked really well yesterday and we’re all set for the July Cup with him, Walker told us”.
“It’s frustrating about the weather as it looks like the July Cup is going to be a much hotter race than the Diamond Jubilee was, so it was a bit gutting that the ground blew our chances at having a crack at what was probably a weaker Group 1 at Ascot. It’s going to be a proper race on Saturday.”