Funny Kid starts back on the road to All-Weather Championships Finals Day with an outing at Newcastle on Saturday.
Christophe Ferland’s charge was part of a memorable three-timer for France at Lingfield on Good Friday in 2018, coming with a swooping late run to land the Betway All-Weather Marathon under Maxime Guyon.
Results have been mixed for the six-year-old since, most recently finishing last of 10 runners in the Group One Prix du Cadran at ParisLongchamp in early October.
However, Ferland is looking forward to seeing his charge return to an artificial surface in the Betway Conditions Stakes, as he aims to earn himself a free and guaranteed start in the All-Weather Marathon in April.
“Funny Kid is doing well. He had a break in August and we feel he is back to himself now,” said the trainer.
“He looks fit and ready to go, plus he is a horse who runs well fresh. His condition is perfect and, although it was a very long journey all the way up to Newcastle, he has handled it very well.
“He is a versatile horse and has run well on all types of tracks. You can ride him from behind or a bit closer depending on the circumstances, and he has big turn of foot. He is just a nice horse.
“The plan at the moment is to focus the All-Weather Championships because he enjoys the surface. If he is going really well, Dubai in March could be an option, otherwise he will head back to Lingfield.”
Funny Kid must concede weight to each of his seven rivals at Gosforth Park.
The highest-rated runner is the Richard Hannon-trained Raymond Tusk, who returns to the fray little over a month after finishing down the field in the Melbourne Cup.
Other hopefuls include Mark Johnston’s Mildenberger and Karen McLintock’s stable star Dubawi Fifty.
The latter is a dual winner at Newcastle and was beaten just a head by Who Dares Wins in the Northumberland Plate on his latest visit.
McLintock said: “He’s well, but he’s wrong at the weights with most of them and it is a big ask.
“We know he likes Newcastle. He ran very well in the Northumberland Plate and he’s won there before, so we know he likes the surface.
“We’re trying to get him qualified for Finals Day, so we’ll see.”
Northumberland Vase winner Carnwennan (Charlie Fellowes), Infrastructure (Martyn Meade), Sir Chauvelin (Jim Goldie) and To Be Wild (Jane Chapple-Hyam) complete the line-up.