Reigning All-Weather Horse of the Year Grendisar and multiple South African G1 winner Yorker headline a field of 11 for the £45,000 Listed Betway Churchill Stakes (2.00pm) at Lingfield Park on Saturday, November 12.
The 10-furlong Polytrack contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same trip at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 14, 2017.
Grendisar (Marco Botti/Adam Kirby) is seeking an eighth success at Lingfield Park and the six-year-old, victorious in the G3 Winter Derby last season, is set to make his first appearance since readily taking the All-Weather Middle Distance Championships on Good Friday in March.
Yorker (William Haggas/Pat Cosgrave) was crowned South Africa’s top older horse in 2014 following a superb campaign that included G1 wins in the Horse Chestnut Stakes and the President’s Champions Challenge as well as a fine second in the country’s top race, the J&B Met.
The seven-year-old has made three European appearances since joining Newmarket-based William Haggas and came home a close fifth on his latest outing in the G2 Prix Dollar at Chantilly, France, at the start of October.
Brazilian G1 victor Energia Davos (Jane Chapple-Hyam/George Baker) and Educate (Ismail Mohammed/James Doyle), who captured the John Smith’s Cup at York in July, are set to re-oppose after fighting out the finish to the Listed James Seymour Stakes at Newmarket on October 29.
Restorer (William Muir/Martin Dwyer) makes a quick re-appearance after coming home third over a mile and a half in the Listed 32Red Floodlit Stakes at Kempton Park on November 2 – his first start since finishing fourth over the same distance on turf in the G2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in April.
The lightly-raced four-year-old was third over an extended 13 furlongs in the re-arranged G3 John Porter Stakes at Chelmsford City earlier the same month and has shown a high level of form over shorter trips, including a comfortable victory in a 10-furlong Newmarket Listed race in October, 2015.
William Muir commented: “Restorer came out of Kempton very well and the only thing I am conscious of is the dreaded bounce factor. It is only 10 days since that run and he was coming back from a break, but he doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects from it.
“We haven’t been given a very favourable draw in stall 11 but I do think that a mile and a quarter is his trip. He ran a wonderful time last time – I was thinking that it was all over when he went clear with two furlongs to go. He might have got slightly tired or the trip might have stretched him.
“It’s a strong contest but the distance looks ideal and we feel that we have as good a chance as a lot of the other runners.”
Other contenders include the Godolphin pair of Maverick Wave (John Gosden/William Buick) and Team Talk (Saeed bin Suroor/Sean Levey), plus French challenger Metropol (Pia Brandt FR/Theo Bachelot) and G3 runner-up Master The World (David Elsworth/Shane Kelly).
Saturday’s other Fast-Track Qualifier is the £40,000 Betway Golden Rose Stakes (12.50pm), with the winner contest receiving a free and automatic place in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships on Finals Day.
A maximum field of 12 for the six-furlong contest includes this year’s Wokingham Handicap winner Outback Traveller (Robert Cowell/Martin Harley) and Lord Of The Land (David O’Meara/Danny Tudhope), who is aiming for a hat-trick of All-Weather wins following impressive displays at Kempton Park and Lingfield Park.
An eight-race card, which gets underway at 11.45am, also includes the £19,000 sunbets.co.uk Handicap, which has attracted 12 runners including two previous winners of the All-Weather Mile Championships – Captain Cat (Tony Carroll/George Baker) and Grey Mirage (Marco Botti/Luke Morris).