Trainer Bruce Watkins expects a fast pace to help River Beau storm home hard in the Furphy-Listed Crawford Stakes (1000m) at Ascot on Saturday.

With the likelihood of Mervyn and Indian Pacific establishing a hot tempo in front, Watkins says River Beau will get a perfect run from barrier one.

“If they put the pace on it’s going to suit him,” Watkins told The Races WA.

“He has a habit of pulling if there is a lack of race speed.

“He seems to perform better in higher tempo races and against the better horses.

“You couldn’t have asked for a better gate.

“If he gets a soft run there is every chance he won’t be too far away.”

River Beau has not raced in five months, but pleased Watkins when second to Crawford Stakes rival Stageman in a 950m Lark Hill barrier trial.

“His trial was better than what I expected,” Watkins said.

“He’s a bit more forward than I thought and there’s more improvement to come.

“My only worry is he might need the run, that’s my gut instinct.

“But who knows how much he has come on since the trial.”

Watkins is keen to see how River Beau goes in his first stakes race and believes he deserves the opportunity after his body of work earlier in the year.

The Snippetson gelding won three races and had the merit of being the only horse to have defeated Clairvoyance when he won by a head margin.

He also placed twice before ending his campaign with a fourth to Miss Conteki, the only occasion he didn’t finish in the first three.

“I would rule a line through that last run,” Watkins said.

“I normally give my sprinters five starts in a campaign and I went to the well one extra time.

“His form before that was good and that convinced me to target the Ascot carnival.

“It will be the first of five runs that hopefully will culminate in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes.

“This Crawford Stakes will give me a guide on whether he is up to it.

“I think he is and I’m excited to be back for the Ascot carnival.

“It’s been a while, but it’s good to be involved again.”

Jason Whiting rides River Beau. The experienced jockey and Watkins combined to win the Crawford Stakes previously with Grand Jardin (2010) and Danny Beau (2008).

Tabtouch currently has River Beau at $9.

Julio Santarelli