When James Tate entered Urban Fox into the Qipco 1,000 Guineas trial at Newbury last month, he did so with very low expectations.
After all, the three-year-old made the trip down to Berkshire following some disrupted preparation, caused by a troublesome foot injury.
However, the 25-1 shot defied those odds, finishing only behind John Gosden’s France-bound Dabyah over seven furlongs in the Fred Darling Stakes.
It was a run that enhanced Tate’s belief in the filly ahead of Sunday’s Classic at the Rowley Mile.
“She picked up this foot problem at just the wrong time,” said the Hamilton Road-based trainer.
“She missed about two-and-a-half weeks, so we did not go into Newbury expecting too much.
“Seven furlongs is too short for her as well, so to finish second given all the circumstances was a fine result.
“Looking at the Guineas — a fast mile suits her much more.
“We set no targets at Newbury, but at Newmarket — a course she likes — expectation levels will rise.
“Providing there are no major hiccups between now and Sunday, she is a good each-way chance.”
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Rhododendron is the pre-race favourite — a filly Urban Fox finished third behind at the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October last year.
This time around, though, Tate believes his interest is in a much better physical shape to challenge Rhododendron and the rest of the Coolmore contingent.
“I’d be afraid of the Irish horses because it is not often Aidan O’Brien gets it wrong, but not a lot else,” he added.
“Last year Urban Fox was a tall, gangly and weak two-year-old, but now she has filled out her frame.
“I always thought she would improve and turn out to be a very useful middle-distance filly.
“We have not seen Rhododendron this year, so nobody knows what shape she is in, but I have no concerns over Urban Fox on that score, especially now the foot injury has cleared up.”
Other expected Newmarket interest in the race includes Gosden’s Daban, Sea Of Grace (William Haggas) and Unforgetable Filly (Hugo Palmer).
n For a feature on the ‘Frankel Factor’ ahead of this weekend’s Guineas meeting, see centre pages.