Newmarket trainer Marco Botti is hoping for an improved performance from Grendisar in the £40,000 Listed 32Red Floodlit Stakes (7.10pm) on Polytrack at Kempton Park tomorrow evening Wednesday, November 4.
The five-year-old held off Fire Fighting (Mark Johnston/Paul Mulrennan) by a neck to win last year’s renewal of the 12-furlong contest and subsequently enjoyed two more Listed successes during the All-Weather Championships, including in the 10-furlong coral.co.uk Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield Park in February.
He was also runner-up to Tryster in the Group Three coral.co.uk Winter Derby in March and third to the same rival in the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic on Good Friday, both over 10 furlongs at Lingfield Park.
Grendisar has not replicated that form on his two most recent outings, finishing fifth to Tha’ir in the Listed Anatolia Trophy at Veliefendi, Turkey, in September and fourth in a 10-furlong conditions race won by Fire Fighting at Chelmsford City on October 8.
Botti commented: “Grendisar seems in good shape. Obviously, he hasn’t shown his form in his last two runs and they have been a bit disappointing.
“He didn’t really face the kick-back in Turkey and he may have needed it a little bit as well. I was expecting better at Chelmsford but he didn’t show his usual turn of foot.
“He is working as well as he was earlier in the year and hopefully the return to Kempton will see him bounce back.
“He does well on the surface and will have a similar campaign to last year’s All-Weather Championships.”
Grendisar is ridden for the first time tomorrow by Oisin Murphy and will exit from stall five.
His eight rivals are headed by Fire Fighting, who followed up his win at Chelmsford City with an easy five-length victory in the Listed Carlingford Stakes at Dundalk, Ireland, on October 16. That was the four-year-old’s 22nd start of 2015.
Her Majesty The Queen is represented by All-Weather debutant Dartmouth (Sir Michael Stoute/Ted Durcan), who annexed a valuable handicap at Glorious Goodwood in August, while South African import In The Fast Lane (William Haggas/Pat Cosgrave) returns to Polytrack after disappointing on turf at Newmarket last time out.
Group Three Cumberland Lodge Stakes runner-up Missed Call (Tom Queally) goes for James Fanshawe, while fellow Newmarket handler Lady Cecil relies on lightly-raced five-year-old Hamelin (Stevie Donohoe), who is two from three on the All-Weather.
The line-up is completed by Sweet P (Marcus Tregoning/Louis Steward), who is unbeaten in three starts on turf this season, Frenzified (Luca Cumani/Martin Lane), who took a Wolverhampton handicap last month, and recent Bath winner Callendula (Clive Cox/Luke Morris).
The Floodlit Stakes boasts an outstanding recent roll of honour, featuring Pether’s Moon (2013), Prince Bishop (2011), Mastery (2010) and Spanish Moon (2008), who all went on to win at Group/Grade One level.