Alan King's Raymond Tusk aiming to spear the field at Newbury

Alan King's Raymond Tusk can run over hurdles and on the flat and takes on the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, April 16.

Dual-purpose trainer Alan King is aiming his versatile Raymond Tusk at the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, April 16.

Raymond Tusk has tackled both hurdles and flat racing this season and now takes on the one mile, four furlong Group 3 in Berkshire.

The seven-year old finished a decent second to Nicky Henderson's talented I Am Maximus over hurdles at Newbury last December and most recently took a conditions race at Doncaster on the flat, showing he can multi-task.

King, a big winner at Cheltenham with Edwardstone, likes Raymond Tusk's profile for the flat, saying "He didn't quite take to hurdling this year, although he ran OK," said King of the seven-year-old, who will again be partnered by Martin Harley.

"He looked back to his old self a bit at Doncaster the other day. He seems to be in good form since.

"I hope it doesn't dry up too much for him - good, good to soft would be ideal. It looked the obvious place to go after Doncaster. I think that may have done his confidence a bit of good."

Meanwhile, Ed Dunlop's Red Verdon has also had a run this term, being beaten a neck on his reappearance over an extended two miles at Wolverhampton last week.

Ryan Moore won the Listed Esher Stakes on Red Verdon last July and keeps the ride.

Dunlop said: "He came out of his race well, when arguably unlucky the other day with his first run back.

"Of course it is competitive, but the horse is in good form and we are very pleased with him. He is a lovely soul and would hope he would run well."

Newmarket handler William Haggas has strong form in the race, winning it in 2012 with Harris Tweed and again last year with Al Aasy. Haggas sends Ilaraab, who has to pay for his talent in weight after landing the St Simon Stakes over course and distance last October.

Ralph Beckett's Max Vega goes against Raymond Tusk again in the Group Three contest.

"He would prefer a good drop more rain, but he is not going to get that," said Beckett.

"I'm not sure we can turn around the form with Ilaraab even with a 3lb pull on this ground, but it is a good starting point and he is very well."

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