STRATUM has everything going for him in Saturday’s valuable Sky Bet Ebor, according to assistant trainer Patrick Mullins.
The son of Dansili scraped into the contest at the declaration stage and connections believe he is the one to beat from the foot of the handicap.
Tony Bloom’s progressive five-year-old will bid to land the owner yet another big-race success, following Withhold’s victory in the Northumberland Plate and Penhill’s win in the Stayers’ Hurdle earlier this year.
“We’re very pleased, firstly that he got into the race. It’s obviously been the aim since winning at Newbury and he’s been in great form since then,” said Mullins.
“He gets in at the bottom of the weights and he has a nice draw (four). He seems to tick a lot of the boxes.
“He looks to have a fantastic chance. You have to have luck in running, but we’re more than happy with him and we’re really looking forward to the race.”
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It wouldn’t be a valuable staying race in Britain without the presence of at least one other Mullins runner, and Stratum will be joined by Grade 1-winning hurdler Whiskey Sour.
“I think he’s still open to improvement,” the trainer said.
“He had two good victories in Galway last year. He ran very well in Ascot with a lot of weight.
“This time instead of having top-weight, he gets in at the bottom and he’s not a big horse so I think that will help him. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he is better than his mark.
“The race didn’t go to plan for him in the Galway Hurdle. Danny (Mullins) was clever and didn’t give him a hard race when it didn’t work out.
“I think hopefully now we’ll see the benefit of Danny looking after him at Galway when he runs on Saturday.”
Closutton’s contenders will not be the only Irish representatives in the race, with Kildare handler Jarlath Fahey sending over Sea The Lion.
The progressive seven-year-old has won his last three starts, and Fahey hopes he can adapt to this different test.
He said: “Everything’s going grand. He’s in good form so we’re hoping for a big run.
“It’s been on the cards since he won at the Curragh. He was high enough for it so we thought we’d have a go.
“I’m hoping the step up in trip will be no problem.
“We’d have preferred to have been drawn a bit better than that (17), but hopefully Ronan (Whelan) doesn’t have to be in a hurry now to get into a position and hopefully he won’t have any traffic problems.”
Marco Botti is set to be double handed with Crowned Eagle, who was beaten a neck in the Old Newton Cup last time out, and Italian Group 1 winner Dylan Mouth.
He said: “Dylan Mouth is in good form. He won at York and definitely likes the track.
“He’s drawn in the middle. That’s fine. The other horse is a bit wider in 19, which is probably not great, but at the same time I’m hoping it’s not a big disadvantage.
“Crowned Eagle has some good form. He steps up an extra two furlongs, which I don’t think is an issue, but you never know.
“Dylan Mouth is a course winner and I think he’s bounced back to his best. He showed that when he won at York and battled to the line.
“You always wonder with horses if they have gone off the boil a little, but he’s back to his best and couldn’t be in better form.
“Both horses have been in good form and the ground won’t hopefully change much. Both need good ground. I couldn’t split the two. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Looking to notch up a second consecutive win in the contest is Nakeeta, who after a stint Down Under ran a good race at Newbury behind the market leader last time out, and trainer Iain Jardine is confident of another bold showing.
He said: “Australia was all new to us, we didn’t know how much the travelling would affect him, but he wasn’t trained hard over there and ran a great race,” said Jardine.
“He had a break when he came back as he’d had a long season and then started training him at the end of January.
“He probably needed the run at Chester and things didn’t work out in the Northumberland Plate, but the Newbury race was good, he showed signs that he was bouncing back and I feel he’s better for this weekend as well.”
The field is completed by Weekender, Muntahaa, Scotland, Mustajeer, Lord Yeats, Time To Study, Blakeney Point, Montaly, Teodoro, Saunter, Platitude, My Reward, Fun Mac and Mountain Bell.