WHEN it gets to this time of the year it is quality racing all the way, and this afternoon is certainly that. On a busy day, I'm looking forward to Haydock's fixture the most, in which the Group 2 Betfred Temple Stakes is the flagship event.
Leading owners Qatar Racing are represented by exciting three-year-old Hot Streak as well as leading contender Pearl Secret, both trained outside Thirsk by Kevin Ryan and David Barron, but the pair look unlikely to line up unless there is a significant ease in conditions.
David Redvers, racing manager for Qatar Racing, explained: "They are two horses who would have massive chances, but they don't want firm ground and we're not prepared to risk them if it's not suitable.
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"It's been a very difficult situation for the clerk of the course as there is rain forecast and therefore they haven't watered.
"Pearl Secret can handle fast ground, but after the accident he had on the horse walker last year where he suffered a nasty splint bone injury, he is too good a horse to risk and I'm almost certain he won't run.
"Hot Streak is a horse who goes on any ground, but as is the case with Pearl Secret, everything points towards Royal Ascot and we don't want to jar him up. He will only run if there is some ease in the ground.
"We're not going to risk their careers for a Group Two at Haydock."
Both Hot Streak and Pearl Secret finished behind Sole Power in the Palace House Stakes three weeks ago, finishing third and eighth respectively as the Lynam runner scooped the Newmarket prize.
"Kevin (Ryan) is very happy with Hot Streak, he's come on a lot for the run at Newmarket and he thinks he's possibly the best horse he's ever trained," said Redvers.
Over in Ireland, the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh looks a super renewal this year and Kingman looks to go one better than the English equivalent a few weeks ago.
The Khalid Abdullah-owned three-year-old, trained by John Gosden, has had a huge reputation since bolting up on his racecourse debut last June and enhanced that when looking potentially top class in the Greenham Stakes on his return to action this year.
He dismissed Richard Hannon's Night Of Thunder with ease that afternoon yet had the tables turned on him in the 2000 Guineas at Headquarters, when the field split into two in what most people agreed was a rather unsatisfactory renewal.
Classic redemption has been Kingman's aim since, and with the Newmarket winner waiting for Ascot, he has been backed into odds-on favouritism.
"He's in good form, he went nicely on Saturday and I'm happy with him now," said Gosden.
"We'd like to run on good ground - that's what everyone is looking for so you can show a turn of foot. We don't want it fast for him, but it might go the other way.
"He's in good order, he came out of his race well and I couldn't be happier."
Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe felt the best horse probably won at Newmarket but there will be no excuses in Ireland.
"We were very positive about him before and he's really done everything we'd have hoped," he said.
"We've got no qualms about the result (at Newmarket). If Kieren's (Fallon) horse (Night Of Thunder) had stayed straight then he'd probably win by further, so you can't complain about that. He was on our side although he diverted to the middle.
"All has been fine with Kingman in the lead up to the race and they are calling the going yielding which should be fine."
For me, I'm heading to Cartmel for their evening fixture. The seven race card gets underway 5.50pm.
Despite lacking quality, the track is always very well attended and tonight's card has a few interesting points.
Champion jockey AP McCoy travels for two rides for Donald McCain, both look to have massive chances.
The star horse on show is Runswick Royal in the novices chase at 7.55pm. The five-year-old was very useful over timber and make the grade over fences as well judged on his fine second on chasing debut at Kelso lately.