Trainer Marco Botti has assembled a strong team for the first fixture of the new, exciting All-Weather Championships at Wolverhampton this Saturday, October 26.
The Newmarket handler will be represented by Grey Mirage and Solar Deity in the opening Ladbrokes Handicap (5.45pm, maximum field of 12 runners, Mile category) over seven furlongs, and Grendisar in the 32Red Handicap (6.45pm, 10 runners, Marathon category) over just short of a mile and six furlongs. Both Class Two contests have a prize fund of £19,000.
Grey Mirage has some excellent form on Polytrack, having won a similar contest at Kempton Park in April and a Class Three handicap at Lingfield Park in December. The four-year-old returned from a break to finish third in a seven-furlong turf conditions contest at the same course on September 14.
Botti said: Grey Mirage is in good form and obviously handles the Polytrack very well - all his better form has been on the all-weather.
We freshened him up in the summer and I thought he ran a good race at Lingfield on his return, so we are looking forward to running him on Saturday.
Solar Deity captured the Listed williamhill.com EBF Lady Wulfruna Stakes over Saturdays course and distance in March and also returned from a four-month break at Kempton Park on September 7, when he stayed on to be a respectable fifth in the totescoop6 London Mile Handicap.
Botti continued: Solar Deity is in good form and is another horse who has done very well on the all-weather.
He won a Listed race at Wolverhampton earlier in the season, but he has lost a bit of speed so I am hoping seven furlongs is not too sharp for him.
I thought he ran a good race at Kempton last month, but he did his best work at the end of that race over a mile, so thats why the drop back is a little bit of a concern.
We also freshened him up over the summer and he is actually going to the sales next week.
Grey Mirage and Solar Deity will clash with Group Three scorer Pastoral Player, trained by Hughie Morrison, classy top-weight Pintura from the stable of Kevin Ryan and Tom Dascombes lightly raced four-year-old Anaconda.
Grendisar has been steadily progressive in handicaps at Lingfield Park and Kempton Park this year, scoring three times including on his latest start over 12 furlongs at Kempton Park on October 15. The three-year-olds nine opponents include the four-time course and distance winner Azrag, trained by Gerard Butler, top-weight Cavaleiro, who ran in the 2012 Investec Derby and Aegaeus, who is a son of champion racemare Ouija Board.
Botti continued: Grendisar is a horse who has been progressing all the time and has been doing really well this season.
He loves the all-weather and is carrying a low weight, so I think he is there with a chance on Saturday.
He never wins by far and just does enough - winning by necks and short-heads - but he is a solid, consistent horse.
The step up in trip is not a concern because the only time he tried it at Haydock, he didnt let himself down on the fast ground. He looks as if he will stay and is much more comfortable on Polytrack.
Botti was also complimentary of the All Weather Championships, he said: I think the All-Weather Championships are a great initiative and there are some nice prizes for horses who are good enough for those big handicaps.
I will definitely be supporting the series and we have purposely given good horses such as Spifer, who go well on the all-weather, a summer break so they are fresh to run in those good Class Two handicaps through the winter.
The seven-race card, which starts at 5.45pm and ends at 8.45pm, also includes the £14,000 32Red.com Nursery Handicap over five furlongs, which sees a field of nine to go to post.
It is the National Student Raceday on Saturday and Wolverhampton is offering a special grandstand package at a cost of £10 for students, which comprises of a racecard, Racing Post and £12 worth of food and drink vouchers.
(Image courtesy of Jon Hoy)