Ascot trainer Stephen Rowe expects It’s A Merc to explode out of the gates, lead, dictate and be hard to run down in the Food For Horses That Fly Handicap (1000m) at Northam on Thursday.

The Bletchley Park gelding followed a similar script at Northam last fortnight before being gunned down by Simon Miller’s Amusement Park who scored by 1 ¾ lengths.

“He just ran out of legs at the end,” said Rowe.

“He was coming off a virus which may have taken the edge of him.

“He hasn’t been to the track since and I can promise you he is going to be fresh.”

It’s A Merc, placed twice from three appearances this campaign, will be reacquainted with the services of Craig Staples.

Jockey and horse will jump from barrier 12 in the field of 14.

“Craig knows the horse well and is a great judge of pace,” said Rowe.

“It’s A Merc will be in front after 50m and I’m quietly confident with added fitness he will be hard to run down.”

Rowe admits Sax On The Beach surprised him when he fought out a tough and grinding win over the mile at Northam last fortnight.

The Saxon gelding, ridden by Shaun O’Donnell, settled near last and took full advantage of the cutaway to surge through along the inside fence.

The four-year-old held on determinedly with less than half-a-length separating the first six runners across the track.

“I didn’t think his work leading in was as good as it should have been,” said Rowe.

“I’m much more comfortable leading into Thursday’s engagement.

“He has drawn nicely and if saved for one final crack at them he will be finishing off strongly.”

Sax On The Beach and O’Donnell will commence from barrier five with last-start winners My Fascination and Two Techniques drawing wide.

Two Techniques, from the Kristian Hawkins stable, ran on from fifth at the turn to edge out pacesetter Helena Miss by a neck margin.

Third placegetter, Barnsley Lad, was doing his best work late over the 1300m journey after racing wide from the 700m.

Barnsley Lad and his rider Craig Staples will commence from barrier three in the Pegasus Studmaster Maiden (1400m).

“He is still doing a few things wrong and is learning what it’s all about,” said Rowe.

“An inside draw will help and I think you have to rate him a genuine each way chance.”

Meanwhile jockey Clint Harvey expects improvement from the Dean White-trained Black At Heart in the Pegasus Sweetmax Maiden (1400m).

Harvey partnered Black At Heart when the Blackfriars gelding ran seventh to Fighting The Blues on debut at Pinjarra earlier this month.

“One of my better rides for the meeting,” said Harvey.

“His trials were strong and he just got a little lost at Pinjarra.

“He has improved sharply from the run and I’m looking forward to the ride.”

Harvey will combine with Suave And Black, prepared by his brother, Todd, in the Milne Feeds Handicap (2200m).

Suave And Black scored a top win at Northam two starts back before an unlucky sixth to The Pupster at Pinjarra on August 8.

“The run didn’t suit but there was no horse attacking the line better,” said Harvey.

“She is definitely a horse to follow.”