Late decisions will be made over Boitron and Raymond Tusk, two of Middleham Park Racing’s big guns for this season, as to whether they run at Newbury this weekend.
Three-year-old Boitron has the option of taking on Too Darn Hot in the Watership Down Stud Greenham Stakes or heading to France for a clash with Andre Fabre’s Persian King in the Prix de Fontainebleau.
“The deal we have with (co-owner) Augustin-Normand hasn’t changed – if he runs in England he wears our colours, and if he runs in France he runs in theirs,” said Middleham Park manager Tim Palin.
“It’s a 50-50 deal. It will also be a 50-50 call as to where he runs this weekend, the Greenham or in France.
“Wherever we go, we are likely to be second favourite behind Too Darn Hot at Newbury and Persian King in France. But Persian King is rated 10lb lower than Too Darn Hot.”
Trainer Richard Hannon has Boitron tuned up for either mission.
Palin added: “We might just be a bit fitter than Persian King, we don’t know, but what is in our favour is that the French trials are treated as exactly that – they aren’t worried about being beaten in a trial.
“Lots of French-trained Arc winners were beaten in their trial.
“In England anything other than a win is a failure. But the Hannons have had a few Guineas winners beaten in trials – like Sky Lantern, Billesdon Brook and Night Of Thunder.
“But Newbury is just around the corner, and we know he’ll like the ground.”
Raymond Tusk is in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes (John Porter), but may wait for the Prix de Barbeville at ParisLongchamp.
“Raymond Tusk will also have an entry in the Barbeville on April 28,” said Palin.
“We’re lucky these days that we can see the transparent declarations, so we can see who is running at Newbury. It will be a very late decision.
“The problem with Newbury is the penalty he picked up for winning his Group Two last season. While the soft ground will play to his strengths, the penalty shoots you in the foot.”
There is much to ponder, and reasons for choosing either option.
“In France the penalty is a bit smaller, and he gets a weight for age allowance as well,” said Palin.
“We’re thinking for him to maximise his potential this season he’ll probably have to step up in trip this season – he was staying on at the end of the St Leger.
“He’s in the Yorkshire Cup, and the Sagaro is a possibility.
“He’s a grinder, who doesn’t really quicken – so with that in mind, I don’t think he’s a Melbourne Cup horse. Never say never – but it’s not at the top of our minds.