Leading All-Weather stayer Rainbow Dreamer reappears in the Betway Conditions Stakes (2.20pm) at Newcastle on Saturday, December 11.
The extended two-mile contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships over the same course and distance on Finals Day.
Rainbow Dreamer, who has been off the track since June, has won six of his 12 starts on the All-Weather for Alan King, including Fast-Track Qualifiers at Wolverhampton and Kempton Park.
Andrew Balding sent out Ranch Hand to win last season’s Betway All-Weather Championships, a race he also captured in 2015 with Mymatechris, and the Kingsclere handler could have another leading candidate in Coltrane.
The four-year-old posted a three-timer on turf in 2020, culminating with a four-length victory in the Melrose Handicap at York, and was an eye-catching second on his comeback from a 396-day break in a 12-furlong handicap at Kempton Park last month.
Balding said: “I was pleased with Coltrane’s run at Kempton. I thought he shaped well given he had been off a long time and the trip was on the sharp side.
“We know he stays a mile and six strongly from his win at York and I think the step up to this sort of trip should suit him well.
“It looks a competitive race, but he goes there in good order.”
Regarding Ranch Hand, he added: “Ranch Hand will not be running this winter. He is having a break at the moment and will come back for the turf next year.”
Alignak makes his second start for Jamie Osborne after finishing sixth in the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton Park on December 1. The five-year-old boasted some smart form for Sir Michael Stoute, including a Listed success at Chester last year.
Island Brave had Rainbow Dreamer back in third when winning this race 12 months ago. Heather Main’s stable star has since gone on to victory in the valuable Old Borough Cup Handicap at Haydock Park in September.
This year’s Northumberland Plate hero Nicholas T returns to the scene of his biggest victory for Jim Goldie, while the Charlie Fellowes-trained Mr Curiosity is aiming to replicate the winning form he showed at Redcar on his penultimate start.