A nine-length demolition of his rivals in the Craven Stakes has Masar primed for Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, according to trainer Charlie Appleby.

The Godolphin three-year-old failed first-up on the dirt at Meydan but he bounced back in style with a return to the turf, putting him right in the frame for this Group One.

“It was hard not to be impressed,” Appleby said. “Visibly, it was a striking performance. If he had won by one or two lengths, then OK, but nine lengths was very impressive.

“We went into that race with a fit horse, with the run under our belt out in Dubai, but you couldn’t have been more pleased with the way he quickened away in the final furlong of the Craven. Once he hit the rising ground, he put a lot of distance between himself and the rest of the field.”

Masar flashed his ability as a two-year-old last season, winning the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown before finishing third in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly.

He has three wins and two third from his seven starts, but both of those unplaced efforts were overseas on the dirt, a surface he does not enjoy.

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“Masar is a horse that we always loved as a two-year-old. It was unfortunate how it panned out for him at the Breeders’ Cup, but we put a line through that and we knew not long after the gates opened out in Dubai that dirt was not the surface for him,” Appleby said.

“Based on what we saw in the Craven, we must go into Saturday’s race hoping that he is a serious contender. It’s an exciting weekend for the team and we hope that Masar has a decent chance.”

Last week’s Audemars Piguet QE II Cup-winning jockey William Buick takes the ride and is likely to push forward from barrier 14 down the straight 1,600m track.

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The early fixed-odds markets have Masar a $6 third favourite behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained duo of Gustav Klimt and Saxon Warrior.

The 2,000 Guineas meeting is one of two Jockey Club simulcasts on Saturday night, alongside three races from Champions Challenge Day at Turffontein.

The Group One Premier’s Champions Challenge (2,000m) is considered one of South Africa’s “big four” races, with the country’s highest-rated runner, Legal Eagle, heading up the field.

The Sean Tarry-trained six-year-old won this race in 2016 but was narrowly beaten by Deo Juvente last year.

“I believe he is the horse to beat,” Tarry said. “Last year maybe I was overconfident but this year everything has gone well and he’s very fit.”

Legal Eagle was a $2.80 favourite in early markets, just ahead of Abashiri ($6) and Nother Russia ($9).

The Jockey Club will simulcast nine races from the two venues, with the first getting under way at 9pm.

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