Newmarket trainer Ed Walker believes his Craven Stakes hero Stormy Antarctic has improved further heading into Saturday’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas race on the Rowley Mile.
Run over a straight mile, the £500,000 event is the first of 35 races in the 2016 QIPCO British Champion Series.
Walker’s three-year-old colt was an eye-catching winner when pulling three-and-a half-lengths clear of Foundation over the 2000 Guineas course at racing headquarters a fortnight ago.
An excited Walker said: “Stormy Antarctic looks fantastic and has tightened up for the run in the Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes.
“He has come out of it extremely well — I couldn’t have asked for the race to have worked out better.
“The public seem to have the 2000 Guineas down as a one-horse race, expecting Aidan’s horse (Air Force Blue) to win it — which takes the pressure off a bit — but we certainly don’t see it that way.
“It’s unbelievably exciting and I’m just praying that everything goes smoothly between now and race day.”
Other leading Newmarket-trained candidates in the race include Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Marcel, successful in last season’s Group One Racing Post Trophy, and Group Two Vintage Stakes winner, Galileo Gold. Emotionless, trained by Charlie Appleby, will not run.
Palmer said: “If the ground is good or slower then Galileo Gold will take his chance in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.
“I was delighted to see three millimetres of rain falling this morning (Monday).
“The French 2000 Guineas at Deauville is also still a possibility for him as, with 15 days between the two races, there is nothing to stop a horse from running in both.”
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has a strong hand in the field, with Air Force Blue, Air Vice Marshal, Bravery and Shogun all taking their place for the Ballydoyle handler.
Ireland’s O’Brien will be bidding for a 1-2-3 in Sunday’s 1000 Guineas, which boasts £523, 750 in prize money.
O’Brien has Minding, Ballydoyle and Alice Springs in the 17-strong field of fillies for the Group One classic, also over a mile.
The British contingent is set to include Chris Wall’s Mix And Mingle, fourth in the Group Three Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes on the Rowley Mile earlier this month.
But Wall has said that the horse will only line up for the big race if the going does not soften from its current description of good.
The Induna Stables handler said: “Mix And Mingle is the best filly that we have had for quite a long time.
“The soft ground didn’t help her in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes, but she has come out of that run fine and did a nice piece of work yesterday. Good ground would be okay, but any slower and I would have second thoughts about running her.
“She needs to have everything in her favour if she is to have a chance of making an impact.”
Also among the British hopes are Lumiere, trained by Mark Johnston, and Brian Meehan’s Blue Bayou.