The grey Coronet
©Healy Racing Photos
Coronet is the star attraction in the Betfred Middleton Stakes at York on Thursday.
John Gosden’s filly won the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer and ran several fine races in defeat, most notably chasing home esteemed stablemate Enable in the Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire in August.
She went on to finish fifth in the St Leger and third on Champions Day at Ascot and drops in class and distance for her seasonal reappearance.
Richard Evans, farm manager at Denford Stud who own and bred Coronet, said: “She’s done well over the winter, everything has gone well so far and we’re hoping for a good performance.
"The first thing we need to find out is whether she’s trained on, but she’s done everything that’s been asked of her at home.
"It's a nice Group Two and a good starting point for the year. We’ll see how we get on, but obviously we’ll be trying to get that Group One win with her. That was the whole reason for her staying in training.
"We’ll start her off on Thursday and she might end up back at York for the Yorkshire Oaks again in the summer."
Coronet is the likely favourite in a seven-strong field and renews rivalries with Ribblesdale runner-up Mori.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained four-year-old is bred in the purple as a daughter of Frankel out of the top-class racemare Midday, who claimed this prize in 2011.
She won twice last term before being beaten a neck by Coronet at the Royal meeting, but disappointed on her subsequent two starts.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “She ran ever so well in the Ribblesdale but then didn’t run up to that form afterwards.
"She has pleased in her work this spring and if she finds her Ribblesdale form, or something like it, then she would have an interesting chance, but she’ll need to find her best form.
"We know she stays a mile and a half, but as this is her first race of the year and this is about getting back on track, we felt this distance (mile and a quarter) was a good place to start her off."
Stoute has a second string to his bow in South African import Smart Call.
Chain Of Daisies rounded off 2017 with a Listed success at Newmarket and has winning form over this course and distance.
Trainer Henry Candy said: "She seems in wonderful form.
"In the past I’ve made the mistake of trying to train her from March/April time and she doesn’t come to hand. She is very much a second half of the year filly.
"She must have real top of the ground and if there is any cut in it she can’t cope.
"She has never really shone first time out, but this year she is nearly there.
"She is gutsy, very genuine and very consistent."
Irish hopes rest on the Jim Bolger-trained Turret Rocks.
Andrew Balding’s Horseplay and Indian Blessing from Ed Walker’s yard complete the line-up.