Hollie Doyle and Mighty Gurkha will bid to play a starring role at Wolverhampton on Saturday evening.
The pair were last teamed up for action in the Breeders’ Cup, finishing down the field in the Juvenile Turf Sprint won by Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal.
Doyle is reunited with the Archie Watson-trained colt in the six-furlong Ladbrokes Watch Racing Online For Free Conditions Stakes, the latest fast-track qualifier for All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday.
Mighty Gurkha has won both of his starts on the all-weather to date, including victory in the Group Three Sirenia Stakes at Kempton Park in September, for which he will carry a 7lb penalty in this race.
Owner Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum is responsible for two leading contenders in Zamaani (Simon and Ed Crisford/James Doyle) and Yazaman (William Haggas/Cieren Fallon).
Zamaani, a dual winner on turf, has a rating of 105 after placed efforts in Listed company on his two most recent starts. The Night Of Thunder colt was narrowly denied in the Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy and three weeks later finished third behind Lipizzaner in the Doncaster Stakes, both over six furlongs.
Yazaman has some very creditable form to his name from earlier in the year, including runner-up finishes in the July Stakes at Newmarket and Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. He clashes again with Victory Heights (James Tate/PJ McDonald) after the pair finished second and third behind Significantly in a fast-track qualifier at Newcastle in October.
Newmarket trainer Marco Botti has put a line through Atalis Bay’s substandard display in the Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket, when he came home a well-beaten ninth. Prior to that, the son of Cable Bay had been highly progressive, winning a maiden impressively at Windsor as well as nursery handicaps at Kempton and Haydock.
Botti said of Andrea Atzeni’s mount: “I think we can disregard his last run in the Cornwallis on account of the soft ground.
“This qualifier looks a competitive race with Archie Watson’s horse in there, as well as a couple of others who have been competing at a good level.
“Atalis Bay is rated (98) just shy of 100 and so these are the sort of races that he has to go for. We have had the final at Lingfield in mind for a while as I think the sharp six furlongs around there will play to his strengths.
“He will have a little break after this race whatever happens and, if he hasn’t qualified, we will then look to give him another couple of runs or find another qualifier in preparation for Finals Day.”
Bakersboy (Tom Dascombe/Richard Kingscote), who shaped well to be third in a pair of novice races over seven furlongs at Wolverhampton recently, and Newcastle scorer Fayathaan (Mark Loughnane/Rossa Ryan) complete the seven runners.