Co-trainers Dan and Ben Pearce head to Ascot with a strong hand on Saturday and there is strong confidence surrounding the chances of Friar’s Fantasia.

The Blackfriars mare is coming off her best race this preparation when she worked home strongly for third in the Westspeed Platinum Series Final (1400m) last-start.

Friar’s Fantasia, to be ridden by Joe Azzopardi and drawn in barrier three, will contest the Clubs WA Handicap (1600m).

Dan Pearce is brimming with high expectations.

“We are really excited to see her out over the mile,” Pearce said on Tabradio.

“She is going fantastic and is a horse that we’ve had a fair opinion of.

“She has been quite raw and a bit awkward at times, but is starting to put it together.

“I think with a bit of luck she could be very hard to beat.”

Pearce also holds strong faith in Essential Spice and says she can commence her campaign in the same manner as she ended her previous preparation earlier in July and August.

The Gingerbread Man mare closed out her winter campaign with a bang, notching a hat trick of wins over 1000m respectively at Belmont.

Essential Spice ran fifth in a warm-up trial ahead of her return in the D’Orsogna Handicap (100m), her maiden appearance at Ascot.

“The only question is going to Ascot,” Pearce said.

“Her form has been very consistent right through her Belmont prep.

“Going to Ascot might be the only query, but the horse is going well.

“We’re happy with her work and she’s had a couple of solid gallops.

“Our non-racing apprentice took her around at the trials and got a little bit lost on her.

“We are happy with her work and confident going to the races.”

Apprentice Chris Graham partners Essential Spice from barrier five.

Graham also has riding duties on Dickoletto and Superior Smile, placed twice in his opening two races this preparation, in the Seacorp Handicap (1500m).

Pearce believes Adam Durant’s Not To Be Mist, a raging favourite, will be the testing material, but says Superior Smile can give the race a shake.

“Obviously Adam’s horse is going really well, but he’s (Superior Smile) in great order,” Pearce said.

“He is now a solid Saturday horse in the higher classes and we are really happy with the way he is going.”

Supreme Force is in form and went close to posting back-to-back wins when a narrow second to Zenaze two weeks ago.

Pearce has a big opinion of the gelding and is hoping that can be validated in the Crown Perth Handicap (1200m).

“He is a very good horse in my opinion and such a big horse that has taken time,” Pearce said.

“When you are that big and that strong everything hits the ground that much harder.

“He’s had his dramas over the time, but really happy with where he is at the moment.

“With luck from the gate he can be in it.”

Supreme Force has drawn barrier eight for Azzopardi.

Essential Spice is the $2.80 favourite, Superior Smile ($8.50), Friar’s Fantasia ($4.40), Dickoletto ($6.50) and Supreme Force ($6) in their respective races.

Julio Santarelli