O'Meara boasts strong hand with Beau Visage and Dutch Artist
Coniston Hotel Country Estate And Spa Handicap | 1m, 4yo + | RUK
Flat racing still seems something of a novelty at Wetherby, but one thing that has struck from the outset is it is almost invariably competitive.
This race is no exception, and although the absence of Fire Tree robs it of one of two last-time-out winners, there are few in the field who can be confidently ruled out.
Mon Beau Visage was a good winner at Pontefract at the end of last month and is only 4lb higher, and so he will be an obvious starting point for many punters, but his trainer David O'Meara also has a live second string in Dutch Artist.
The Richard Fahey-trained topweight Miss Van Gogh, back down to a mark from which she won in good style last April, will be another for the shortlist.
With rain forecast the ground will potentially be much softer than that which applied at the 48-hour stage, when some trainers declared in the hope that it remained quick, and others that it would turn soft. Richard Fahey, who trains Miss Van Gogh, and Ed de Giles, who saddles Zlatan, will both have been very much in the latter camp.
What they say
Ed de Giles, trainer of Zlatan
Everything went wrong at Newbury, where he was pitched in at the deep end, but this looks much more suitable. It looks as if there will be plenty of cut, and he's best going round a bend with plenty of cover. He's jumping out of his skin.
Rebecca Bastiman, trainer of Hitman
He seems like a nice horse but we'll learn a lot from this first run for us. There's rain forecast and I think that will suit him.
Richard Guest, trainer of Billy Roberts
He's been a bit disappointing the last twice, but there was a valid excuse last time. He's fit and well and if he had come here after his win at Pontefract he would be a strong favourite.
Andrew Balding, trainer of Dream Of Summer
He was probably unsuited by the soft ground last time and I just hope they don't get too much rain. I'm very happy with the way he's been working.
Mick Appleby, trainer of Red Touch
He's back on turf and probably a bit high in the handicap still, but he's in good order and should run well.
Les Eyre, trainer of Like No Other
You'd hope the extra furlong would be right up his street the way he finished off last time, and they should have the soft ground that's so important to him. I've been watching [apprentice] Paula Muir closely and she looks a very capable young rider with a good racing brain.
Ivan Furtado, trainer of Ski Blast
He needed the race last time as he's had a couple of issues and he was coming back from a long break. We're hoping for a better run this time but it's a tough enough race and soft ground would be a concern.