All-Weather Championships veteran Watersmeet features among a fascinating field of six for the £19,000 Betway Conditions Race (6.15pm) at Wolverhampton on Monday, January 14th.
The extended two-mile Tapeta contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships, with the winner receiving a free and guaranteed place in the two-mile showpiece at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, April 19th.
Watersmeet (Mark Johnston/Joe Fanning) gamely edged out French challenger Funny Kid in last year’s Betway Conditions Race before finishing a close third behind the same horse in the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships.
The eight-year-old is aiming for a 13th All-Weather success and heads into Monday’s race after coming home fourth in another Marathon Fast-Track Qualifier on Tapeta, the Betway Stayers Conditions Race, at Newcastle on December 15th.
Three of Watersmeet’s rivals from Newcastle re-oppose, including the second Festival Of Ages (Charlie Appleby/Adam Kirby), fifth Alfredo (Seamus Durack/Luke Morris) and seventh Golden Wolf (Iain Jardine/Dougie Costello).
Golden Wolf was making his debut for Dumfriesshire trainer Iain Jardine at Newcastle and the five-year-old had previously shown a good level of form for Richard Hughes, placing in valuable turf handicaps at Epsom Downs, Newmarket and Newbury.
Jardine commented: “Golden Wolf has been working nicely and I think that he will come on a bit for his first run for us.
“We are still getting to know the horse but this track should suit him better than Newcastle, when he was a little keen, and he heads to Wolverhampton in good order.
“He is a little wrong at the weights with some of the field but we feel that, if he can find a bit of improvement from last time, he will run a big race. He is going the right way and I definitely feel he can win races for us.
“We might put him over hurdles in the future but we will keep him on the Flat for the time being and, fingers crossed, we can get him into the race on Good Friday.”
Aircraft Carrier (John Ryan/Martin Harley), the only four-year-old in the race, steps up to two miles for the first time following two decisive handicap victories over 14 furlongs in December at Wolverhampton and Chelmsford City.
The field is completed by Arch My Boy (Martin Smith/Hector Crouch), who ran in the Champion Bumper at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and scored impressively on his Flat debut at Nottingham in October.
Wolverhampton’s seven-race card on Monday gets underway at 4.40pm and runs through until 7.45pm.