Lingfield Park hosts the final Fast-Track Qualifier in the Three-Year-Old category for this season's All-Weather Championships on Saturday, February 29, with a classy field of nine declared for the £45,000 Listed Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Spring Cup (3.10pm).
The seven-furlong contest, won by subsequent multiple G1 winner Paco Boy in 2008, offers a free and guaranteed place in the £150,000 Ladbrokes Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championship Final over a furlong shorter at the course on Good Friday, April 10.
Newmarket-based trainers have won six of the last seven renewals including the Marco Botti-trained Teophilip, who scored under Andrea Atzeni in 2013. The same trainer/jockey combination team up this year with G3 victor Malotru, who kicks off his three-year-old campaign following a fruitful juvenile season.
After scoring on debut at Chelmsford City in May, Malotru easily won the G3 Premio Primi Passi at San Siro, Italy the following month. The Casamento colt made two further appearances, both at G2 level over six furlongs, finishing fourth in York's Gimcrack Stakes and fifth in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
Botti said: "Malotru wintered really well and looks great in his coat. He has been working nicely and we always thought that he would get seven furlongs as a three-year-old. If there is one place where a horse is going to get seven furlongs, it is at Lingfield. Andrea won on him in Italy last season and we are ready to go.
"He won his G3 well and the runner-up from that day, Sicomoro, has shown some good form since. It is probably not the same level as a G3 in England but I thought he did well to win that race, considering it was only his second run and he was inexperienced.
"Malotru got checked a couple of times in the Gimcrack before staying on well but we didn't learn much in the Mill Reef. He didn't settle and hung left, so nothing went to plan. Hopefully, we can move forward from that run and have a good season with him.
"He would have to drop back to six furlongs for Good Friday, and I don't think that he is sharp enough for that trip around Lingfield. It will be interesting to see how he travels on Saturday, but I have my doubts about dropping him back to six on the course.
"This could be a stepping-stone for something like the Greenham Stakes if he was good enough and we need to decide at some point whether to campaign him as a sprinter or a miler. I don't think he is good enough for the English Guineas but we have entered him in the German Guineas, so a race like that could come under consideration provided he runs well this weekend."
Malotru's rivals include unexposed colt The Perfect Crown (Archie Watson/Hollie Doyle), who stormed to an eight-length success at Chelmsford City on his only start in November.
Richard Hannon, successful with Lexington Times in the 2015 Ladbrokes Spring Cup, has two contenders in Sun Power (Silvestre de Sousa) and Oh Purple Reign (Tom Marquand), who were second and fourth in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot in July.
Kondratiev Wave (Tony Carroll/Franny Norton) has already booked his Finals Day place with a neck verdict over Amarillo Star (Charlie Fellowes/Stevie Donohoe) in a Kempton Park Fast-Track Qualifier in January pictured above.
Hector Loza (Simon Dow/Paddy Bradley) was twice successful on the All-Weather last year and finished fourth in the G3 Solario Stakes at Sandown Park. Melodic Charm (James Tate/P J McDonald) was also fourth in G3 company in 2019 when going down by less than three lengths in Kempton Park's Sirenia Stakes.
The field is completed by Raaeb (Saeed bin Suroor/Hector Crouch), who readily took a Kempton Park novice race in October before finishing a close fourth in a Wolverhampton Fast-Track Qualifier in December.
A seven-race card at Lingfield Park on Saturday gets underway at 1.35pm and runs through until 4.55pm.