Race fitness could give Tullius the edge in what is a barnstorming renewal of the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown on Friday.
With the Craven meeting at Newmarket now behind us, the Flat season is in full flow and the first fixture on the level in Esher is arguably the best of the year so far.
A field of five go to post for the opening Pattern race of the afternoon, with Tullius the only participant to have shown his well being already this term after a successful return in last month’s Doncaster Mile.
Last season he filled the runner-up spot in the Lincoln on Town Moor before winning the bet365 Mile on this afternoon and similar progress should be expected.
Andrew Balding’s charge will be tackling a mile and a quarter for only the second time, with his previous attempt almost four years ago, but that should be a help rather than a hindrance, particularly with the ground set to be lively.
Cannock Chase, not seen since winning at Royal Ascot last June, Postponed and Western Hymn all look set for exciting seasons, but Tullius, who acquitted himself well at the top level on a number of occasions in 2014, looks the best call on this occasion.
The bet365 Mile was claimed six times in the last decade by Richard Hannon snr and his son Richard can uphold family honour with Shifting Power this time around.
The chestnut four-year-old enjoyed a fine Classic campaign, winning the Free Handicap last April before finishing fourth in the 2000 Guineas and second in both the Irish equivalent and the Prix Jean Prat.
He was disappointing on his final appearance at Glorious Goodwood, but perhaps he was feeling the effects of a tough first half of the year and he should be tough to beat now, receiving weight from his major rivals.
The bet365 Classic Trial is another interesting heat, with the participation of Andre Fabre’s French raider Grey Lion adding spice.
* Selections -
Doncaster: 1.20 Janaab, 1.50 Atab, 2.20 Mr Snoozy, 2.50 Golden Spun, 3.25 Sakhee’s Rose, 4.00 Distant Past, 4.35 Penny Dreadful.
Sandown: 1.30 Yeenaan, 2.00 TULLIUS (NAP), 2.30 Shifting Power, 3.00 Grey Lion, 3.35 Waady, 4.10 Brandybend, 4.45 Rockfast.
Chepstow: 5.05 Risk A Fine, 5.35 Knight In Purple, 6.05 Handy Andy, 6.35 Tarvini, 7.10 Repeat Business, 7.40 The Cat’s Away, 8.10 Lemony Bay.
Perth: 2.10 Chantara Rose, 2.40 Toledo Gold, 3.10 Sendiym, 3.45 Imjoeking, 4.20 Big Society, 4.50 Heathfield, 5.20 Red Six.
Plumpton: 4.55 Laurium, 5.25 Lord Lir, 5.55 Leaderofthedance, 6.25 Days Ahead, 6.55 Little Roxy, 7.25 Golanova, 7.55 Monroe Park.
Double: Tullius and Grey Lion.
* Doncaster and Sandown cards in Thursday’s Star.