Last year's Investec Derby winner Masar is very much the one to beat in the Princess Of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday, according to his trainer Charlie Appleby.
The now four-year-old finally made his return to the racecourse after almost a year out through injury when finishing fifth in the Hardwick Stakes at Royal Ascot on the Saturday.
It was a creditable run given the fact he almost parted company with James Doyle coming out of the gates, and would have done his legs the world of good to complete the contest boosting his fitness and sharpness.
Appleby admits the son of New Approach has taken to his work very well at home since returning from injury.
(Credit: Racing Post) He said: "Masar has enjoyed a faultless preparation since his run in the Hardwicke. We are confident that he is in as good a condition as we have ever had him and is the one they have to beat on Thursday.
"The Hardwicke didn’t pan out as we would have liked, he had that hiccup at the start, then they went steady and he was a bit free and had to come wide around the field.
"But he showed that his enthusiasm for the game is still there, had a nice blow afterwards and has come forward both physically and mentally since then.
"We were pleased with the way that he prepped going into that run, but running first up over a mile and a half at that kind of level was a big ask and there is nothing better than getting a race under your belt."
The Godolphin trainer believes that his Classic winner has shaken off any problems he may have maintained from last season, and that it's time to see the best of him again.
He said: "The improvement that we hope we have seen since then means that we are confident that he can make up the three lengths on Mirage Dancer, provided Sir Michael’s horse hasn’t improved by another three lengths in the meantime!
"Comparing generations is always difficult but, while Hawkbill was a multiple Group One winner, Masar is a Derby winner. I would like to think that he has a bit more class than Hawkbill," he finished.
The chestnut colt has five rivals standing in his way of a fifth career victory, including a brace of Royal Ascot scorers in the shape of Baghdad and Dashing Willoughby.
Mirage Dancer - third in front of Masar in the Hardwicke, will represent the leading trainer in the event: Sir Michael Stoute, who has nine career winners.
Mark Johnston's Communique and David Simcock's Desert Encounter complete the remainder of the field.