Raymond Tusk will continue on the road to All-Weather Championships Finals Day with a run at Wolverhampton on Monday.
Richard Hannon’s high-class stayer won a Group Three in Italy in 2018 – and last season was fourth in the Ebor at York before finishing down the field in the Melbourne Cup.
The five-year-old made a successful all-weather debut when edging out French raider Funny Kid at Newcastle last month – and the pair renew rivalry in the Betway Conditions Stakes, which is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon on Good Friday.
Whether the Middleham Park Racing-owned Raymond Tusk makes a trip to Saudi Arabia during the intervening period has yet to be decided.
Middleham Park’s Tim Palin said: “We had a decision to make about whether we put Raymond Tusk away for Finals Day or have a look at the big staying handicap in Saudi Arabia at the end of February beforehand.
“We have entered him for Saudi Arabia, but we have not seen the entries yet – and with it being the inaugural running, we don’t quite know what the race is going to look like. We are keen to run -but without seeing the entries, we do not want to commit to anything yet.
“We thought that if we are keeping him on the go with that in mind, he would either have to do a gallop at home in three or four weeks’ time or alternatively we can keep his fitness topped up on the all-weather and hope to earn a bit of prize money in the process.
“If ultimately we decide not to go to Riyadh, then we can still give him a little rest after Monday in preparation for Finals Day. Essentially, all roads lead to Finals Day – either via Riyadh or straight there.”
Raymond Tusk and Funny Kid are two of five runners at Dunstall Park, with Alan King’s pair of Rainbow Dreamer and Scarlet Dragon and Deal A Dollar from David Simcock’s yard completing the quintet.
Palin added: “I think on weights and measures, he is the one to beat on Monday.
“His usual pilots – Jamie Spencer and Tom Marquand – are not around at the moment, but Richard Kingscote takes over and he is fabulous around Wolverhampton.
“He always seems to get the fractions right, and I would imagine that is what we will try to do on Monday.”