One-time Classic hope Indigo Girl is the star attraction in the British Racecourses Join Sunflower Lanyard Scheme Valiant Stakes at Ascot on Friday.
The daughter of Dubawi won two of her three starts as a juvenile last season, including an impressive Group Two triumph in the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September.
She met with defeat for the first time when runner-up to Pretty Gorgeous in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket the following month, but while the third home Mother Earth went on to win the 1000 Guineas this spring, Indigo Girl has not been seen in competitive action since.
John and Thady Gosden’s filly is one of two runners for prominent owner George Strawbridge in Friday’s Group Three feature along with Noel Meade’s Irish challenger Elysium.
The Belardo filly, who will be carrying the Strawbridge colours for the first time, also has to overcome a lengthy absence, having been off the track since winning the Group Three Weld Park Stakes at the Curragh last autumn.
Meade said: “She’s in good shape. We had kind of a miserable spring as she got a few little respiratory problems, which slowed her down.
“We struggled to get her right, but we think we’re nearly there now and we really hadn’t any place to start her (in Ireland).
“We wanted to start her in a Group race if possible and this looked the most suitable one. Her owner has another runner in it and she’s favourite, but that’s the way it goes.
“I’m hoping our filly will have a good run. She will improve for the run I’m sure.”
The biggest threat to the Strawbridge pair appears to be the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Lights On, who has won three of her four starts this season – most recently romping 10 lengths clear of her rivals in the Listed Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract.
Chris Richardson, managing director for owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “We’ve been thrilled with her this year. She ran no race at Royal Ascot (eighth in Kensington Palace Stakes) because of the draw really.
“The ground is going to be different on Friday. A bit of juice in the ground might have been helpful, but it’s a logical race and we’ll see what happens.
“John and Thady Gosden’s filly was highly thought of last year, but our filly is in good form and has come out of her last race well.
“Hopefully they put a bit of water on.”