Brian Ellison could saddle highly-rated juveniles Pearl Of Qatar and Antico Lady in the historic Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley on Saturday (June 9).
Pearl Of Qatar already has important Beverley experience, having won a five-furlong novice stakes by a length in May. That was the daughter of Footstepsinthesand's only career start and she is now set to step up in class for the £35,000 Hilary Needler Trophy, which is a renowned springboard towards Royal Ascot.
Ellison said: "She's got a bit more work to do at home, but the plan at this stage is to run in the Hilary Needler. She's a very nice filly. She was a big price on her debut at Beverley, but it didn't surprise me that she won like that as she'd been going nicely at home. We also took her for a gallop at Pontefract, and that did her a lot of good. She's very laid-back at home, but she's got a lot of pace and is a horse we like a lot."
Stablemate Antico Lady finished seventh of nine runners on her sole start at Thirsk on May 19, but Ellison is convinced she will not be out of place in the Hilary Needler. The Malton-based handler said: "She ran a lot better than her finishing position might suggest at Thirsk. She's a filly we think a lot of and hopefully she'll get to show that at Beverley."
Pearl Of Qatar and Antico Lady are amongst 21 entries for the Hilary Needler Trophy, which was famously won by the peerless Attraction in 2003. Attraction's former trainer Mark Johnston has this season entered Lingfield scorer Octave and No Lippy, who has won three of her four races to date.
Robert Cowell won the Hilary Needler last June with Chica La Habana and could this year saddle Bhangra and Vivivaki. Dame Gladys (Kevin Ryan), Good Tyne Girl (Richard Fahey) and the Richard Hannon-trained duo of K Club and Wedding Date are already winners and could also run.
It could be an important afternoon for Ellison at Beverley on Saturday as he will also take the plunge with King Billy in the £35,000 Trucking by Brian Yeardley Two-Year-Old Trophy. Owned locally by Keith Brown, the Zoffany colt is expected to be a great deal sharper than on his debut at Catterick on June 1.
Ellison said: "He's a nice horse and Keith loves having runners at Beverley so we'll give it a go. He might need a longer trip in time, but he's been working well at home and came out of Catterick grand."
The five-furlong Brian Yeardley Two-Year-Old Trophy is also a significant pointer towards Royal Ascot, with last year's winner, Cardsharp, finishing third in the Norfolk Stakes.