Chris Waller keen to put Zoustar to the test in rehearsal for Royal Ascot

Chris Waller has $20 million colt Zoustar "ready to go" for Saturday's $500,000 Canterbury Stakes but he says race fitness is a concern heading to Randwick.

The sprint is being used as a rehearsal for Royal Ascot as Waller plans for the trip to England. Zoustar is out to build on his group 1 tally after winning the Golden Rose and Coolmore Stud Stakes in the spring. He takes on open company for the first time in the Canterbury Stakes, the main lead-up for the T.J. Smith Stakes during The Championships.

Waller decided to go to 1300 metres first-up after two soft trials with a view to the Diamond Jubilee at Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket. "Race fitness is a concern, but you can only get it by racing," he said. "He is pretty athletic, clean-winded as they say … I want him to have this tough test first-up because it will be pretty similar to running 1200m up the big hill, which he will have to do at Royal Ascot. It is not going to be easy, but he is up to it."

The Canterbury Stakes has drawn an elite field in the past couple of years and Zoustar could face up to a dozen rivals, including stablemates Red Tracer, Sacred Falls and My Kingdom Of Fife.

The in-form Team Hawkes is excited about the chances of Not Listenin'tome, runner-up to Zoustar in the Coolmore, after his four-length romp in the Zeditave Stakes at Caulfield last month. "We are very happy, but we are taking on a superstar," Michael Hawkes said. "Our horse was explosive first-up and he is ready to be explosive again. He has race fitness on his side."

Guy Walter could have three runners - Toydini, Streama and Appearance, which is unbeaten in two runs this campaign.

"We had to miss the Chipping Norton because she was tying up, but she is back on course and needs this run to get to the Doncaster," he said of Appearance. "It is probably short of the best trips for all of them but it is part of a preparation and I'm sure they will all run well."

Joe Pride is leaning towards running Rain Affair in the Canterbury Stakes but will also nominate the sprinter for the Challenge Stakes. "I think 1300m is close to his best trip and he is getting back to his best if his work is a guide," Pride said. "I might run Tiger Tees as well, but I would be hoping for a soft track for him."

The Randwick meeting is full of interest as Golden Slipper hopefuls line up in the Skyline Stakes, which will feature $2.4 million colt Wilderness, and the Sweet Embrace Stakes. Buffering starts his preparation for the T.J.Smith in the Challenge Stakes where he will clash with Lightning Stakes winner Snitzerland. Damian Browne will ride Buffering under a stay of proceedings as he appeals against a six-week suspension.

The story Chris Waller keen to put Zoustar to the test in rehearsal for Royal Ascot first appeared on WA Today.

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