There is an All-Weather Championships double-header this Saturday, with Fast-Track Qualifiers at Kempton Park and Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.
Stayers take centre stage at Kempton Park in the £25,000 32Red Conditions Race (7.15pm, 13 entries) over two miles on Polytrack.
The winner of the Polytrack contest is guaranteed a free start in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship over the same distance on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 19th.
Spark Plug (Brian Meehan) sets the standard with a rating of 107, following a decisive victory in the Listed 32Red Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton Park on Polytrack in December, though he has yet to race over further than a mile and a half.
The eight-year-old son of Dylan Thomas’s wins at shorter trips on turf includes a 10-furlong Listed victory at Sandown Park in 2017 and an impressive success in the previous year’s Cambridgeshire Heritage Handicap at Newmarket.
Trainer Brian Meehan said today: “Spark Plug is in great order and we are looking forward to Saturday.
“He was due to run at Lingfield Park the other day [February 1st], but we could not get there as we were snowed in.
“I think you would have to pretty confident about him getting two miles. Tom [Marquand, jockey] was happy with him last time and felt he would get further.
“Two miles is uncharted territory, but it is worth giving it ago.”
Grey Britain (John Ryan) and All-Weather stalwart Watersmeet (Mark Johnston) could re-oppose after finishing first and second in the Betway Conditions Race at Lingfield Park on February 1st, when separated by a length and a quarter.
Godolphin runner Festival Of Ages (Charlie Appleby) is open to improvement after just five starts. The five-year-old was last seen out when second behind Aircraft Carrier in a Fast-Track Qualifier over an extended two miles on Tapeta at Wolverhampton on January 14th.
Other notable contenders include 2017 Northumberland Plate victor Higher Power (James Fanshawe) and Redicean (Alan King), the easy winner of a Lingfield Park handicap on his penultimate start.
Top-class Jump mare Verdana Blue (Nicky Henderson) holds an entry, but is currently not allowed to run due to a change in rules regarding flu vaccinations.
Kempton Park’s seven-race Saturday programme starts at 5.15pm and ends at 8.15pm.
Sun Racing All-Weather Mile champion Lucky Team (Joe Boisnard) is one of 19 entries for the €52,000 Listed Prix Saonois over a mile at Cagnes-sur-Mer in the south of France.
Lucky Team came with a swooping run to land the £150,000 Sun Racing All-Weather Mile Championship on Good Friday last year and Saturday’s Polytrack contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the same race.
Entries for the Prix Saonois are headed by German challenger Palace Prince (Jean-Pierre Carvalho), who is a multiple Pattern race winner in his homeland, most notably in the Badener Meile at Baden-Baden in May, 2017.
There could be British representation courtesy of Mango Tango (Archie Watson), who captured a 10-furlong conditions race at Kempton Park in December.