There should be plenty of pointers towards All-Weather Championships Finals Day when Lingfield Park stages a seven-race card, featuring two Fast-Track Qualifiers, on Saturday, February 6.
Coral Winter Derby favourite Festive Fare headlines 10 entries for the £45,000 Listed coral.co.uk Winter Derby Trial (2.55pm) over 10 furlongs on Polytrack, with the winner guaranteed a free start in the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic over the course and distance on Good Friday, March 25.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, Festive Fare is unbeaten in three outings on the All-Weather and was last seen out when beating Charles Camoin (Sylvester Kirk) comfortably in a valuable handicap at Wolverhampton on December 12.
The 2015 winner Grendisar is set to provide stiff competition after two good runs over the course and distance this All-Weather season. The six-year-old finished well when runner-up to Let’s Go in the Listed coral.co.uk Churchill Stakes in November and returned the following month to fill the same position when just failing by a neck to catch Don’t Be in the Listed Coral Quebec Stakes.
Trainer Marco Botti said: “Grendisar goes to Lingfield on Saturday and seems in great form.
“He runs his best races around Lingfield and his last couple of performances are definitely the best form he has shown for a while.
“He loves the surface and, providing he gets a decent draw, we hope he will go close again. He is definitely capable of winning if things go right.”
Other eye-catching entries include in-form mare Lamar (James Tate), Captain Cat (Roger Charlton), winner of the Ladbrokes Mile in 2014, and All-Weather specialist Complicit (Paul Cole). Valuable Newmarket handicap scorer Watersmeet (Mark Johnston) and recent course and distance scorer Winterlude (Jennie Candlish) are also engaged.
South African import Cold As Ice (William Haggas) could drop back to six furlongs for the £45,000 Listed Unibet Cleves (1.45pm), a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Unibet All-Weather Sprint over the same distance on Good Friday.
The five-year-old mare got off the mark in Britain at the second time of asking when beating Realize (Stuart Williams) in a seven-furlong conditions race at Chelmsford City on December 21.
Newmarket-based Botti is planning to run Golden Steps. The five-year-old was the impressive winner of the Stewards’ Cup consolation race at Goodwood in August, but did not match that form in three subsequent starts.
Golden Steps has run twice on the All-Weather, with the best effort coming when fourth to Intransigent (Andrew Balding) in the Listed Unibet Golden Rose Stakes over the course and distance in November, 2014.
Botti said: “Golden Steps will run here before possibly going to Qatar again at the end of February for the race he was fifth in last year.
“He looks in good form. He showed his class at Goodwood but I think he was a bit over the top after that, so the break will have done him good.
“From a fitness point of view, he is ready to run but I think he is better suited to six furlongs on a straight course rather than around a sharp track like Lingfield. He usually takes a while to find his feet and that can be a problem at Lingfield, especially if you are drawn wide.”
Also among the 20 entries are prolific All-Weather performer Chookie Royale (Keith Dalgleish), Angelic Lord (Tom Dascombe) and Alben Star (Richard Fahey), who triumphed on All-Weather Championships Finals Day in 2014 and was runner-up last year.
German raider Gamgoon (Mario Hofer), runner-up in a Fast-Track Qualifier on his British debut at Chelmsford City on January 2, may also take part.
The card also includes the seven-furlong £45,000 Ladbrokes Handicap (3.30pm) which has attracted 24 entries including Intransigent, Realize, Golden Steps and another Botti horse – Grey Mirage.
Lingfield Park’s seven-race programme on Saturday commences at 1.10pm and finishes 4.35pm.