Dan Morton is delighted to have Man Booker back racing and remains optimistic he can win first-up in the Listed Idyllic Prince Stakes (1300m) at Belmont on Saturday.
The Ascot trainer believes Man Booker is back on track and showing no signs of a mystery hoof injury that derailed his Ascot carnival campaign last October.
Man Booker ran a distant last in the Listed Birthday Stakes (1200m) and finished ninth of 11 in the Group 3 Northerly Stakes (1400m) two weeks later.
It was a bitter blow for Morton who had high expectations after Man Booker produced an almost flawless campaign earlier in the autumn.
He took out the Listed Pinjarra Classic (1300m)-Bunbury Stakes (1400m) double and the Listed Grandstand Cup (1500m) at Ascot.
His sole defeat in a top campaign of racing came in the Listed Old Comrade Stakes (1600m) when he ran 2 ¼ lengths third to Great Shot.
Man Booker, a winner of the 2016 WA Guineas (1600m), looked primed for his return after leading to win a 1000m trial at Belmont a week ago.
‘I’m just excited to have him back and he looks like he is in good order, Morton told Tabradio.
“I’m mindful he has had a long layoff and the older ones take a run or two.
“But that said I think he should be going pretty good.
“He hasn’t put a foot wrong since coming back and has been very good.”
Champion jockey William Pike has secured his first ride on Man Booker. Regular hoop Jerry Noske is on holidays.
Man Booker, a winner in eight of 17 races, has drawn barrier eight and holds TAB Favouritism at $2.50.
Pounamu ($3.40), Rebel King ($5) and Profit Street ($7) are the remaining runners in single figure odds.
Morton and Pike are chasing their first success in the Idyllic Prince Stakes. Morton’s father Len prepared Palace Guest to win the sprinting feature in 1991.