Trainer Dan Morton is confident Man Booker can show his true colours and bounce back to his best in the Listed Crawford Stakes (1000m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Having finished unplaced in the Group 3 Roma Cup (1200m) and Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) in May, Morton is forgiving of Man Booker’s last campaign.
He said things did not go according to plan for the Discorsi gelding who was coming off a serious leg injury that threatened to put an end to his racing career.
After winning the Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) at Ipswich and the Listed Birthday Stakes (1200m) at Belmont, Man Booker was sidelined after surgery on a hairline fracture in a hind leg.
“I wasn’t disappointed by what he produced in the winter,” Morton told The Races WA.
“You have to remember he was coming off a pretty severe injury.
“I thought his first up run in the Roma Cup was actually pretty good, then he put in a fair one second-up.
“I was happy to use it as a building block for the Ascot carnival otherwise he would have been sitting in the paddock.”
Morton, who won the Crawford Stakes last year with Dainty Tess, said Man Booker’s warm up trial was a strong indication he was on track for his return.
After settling back he worked to the line strongly without being fully extended and ran a bunching fourth, with a length and a half separating the five runners.
Morton said he can’t fault Man Booker’s work.
“He is bang on and I can’t question him,” Morton said.
“His final piece of work this week has been super.
“He certainly hasn’t lost any of his ability.
“I have no doubt he can run a belter.
“If he gets clear air, he will be coming at them.”
The Crawford Stakes marks the return of Man Booker and also signals which direction Morton will take with the eight-year-old at the Ascot carnival.
Man Booker contested the 2018 edition of the Railway Stakes (1600m), but Morton is keen to switch and test his credentials in the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m).
“I was keen to test him in the Winterbottom last year before he went amiss,” Morton said.
“I’m not convinced he can run out a strong mile, even though he has been nominated for the Railway and Kingston Town (1800m).
“This race, the Crawford Stakes, will give me a better guide and tell me which direction I should take.”
Paul Harvey will ride Man Booker in the Crawford Stakes.