Caspian Prince, a Group Two winner at the Curragh, Ireland in July when beating Marsha a short-head, heads the seven runners in the five-furlong £30,000 Betway Conditions Stakes (5.10pm) on Tapeta at Newcastle on Tuesday, January 2, the latest Fast-Track Qualifier for the All-Weather Championships.
The winning horse gains free and automatic entry to the £150,000 Betway Sprint Final over six furlongs on All-Weather Championships Day, Good Friday, March 30 at Lingfield Park (Polytrack).
Nine-year-old Caspian Prince, carrying 9st 7lb and trained by Tony Coyle in North Yorkshire, has to give weight to his six rivals over his favourite distance of five furlongs, with Ben Curtis in the saddle.
He made his initial appearance of this All-Weather season in the six-furlong Listed Betway Golden Rose Stakes at Lingfield Park on November 18, the first Fast-Track Qualifier for the Betway Sprint Final, and led until headed with a half-furlong to race, weakening to finish fifth.
Gracious John (David Evans/Fran Berry) is a winner of five of his 12 All-Weather starts and on Good Friday 2017 finished a close second in the Betway Sprint Final to Kimberella, going down by a half-length.
The five-year-old son of Baltic King has won both his last two starts – All-Weather five-furlong handicaps at Wolverhampton (December 22) and Lingfield Park (December 12).
Fran Berry rode Gracious John to those victories and is unbeaten on the horses so, not surprisingly, he is in the saddle again on Tuesday.
Seven-year-old Doctor Sardonicus (David Simcock/Tom Eaves) had his first start for over four months when fourth to Gracious John, beaten a length and a quarter, at Wolverhampton on December 22 and is 2lb worse off.
Intisaab (David O’Meara/Daniel Tudhope), was successful at Wolverhampton on Boxing Day in a six-furlong conditions race by a length from Gulliver, but has yet to race over five furlongs.
The seven-year-old son of Elnadim has had 37 career starts, all between six furlongs and a mile. He raced at Newcastle for the only time previously when the head second in the Group Three Betfred TV Chipchase Stakes over six furlongs on July 1.
Yorkshire-based David O’Meara commented today: “I wasn’t sure whether to go for this race over five furlongs or a six-furlong one.
“Tuesday’s race has higher prize money of £30,000 and I have always thought I would like to try Intisaab at five furlongs.
“There is nothing to lose and it could suit him as he is a strong traveller in the mid part of his races.
“Intisaab won the conditions race at Wolverhampton and we will continue to pick away at similar nice races.”
Blue De Vega (Robert Cowell/Oisin Murphy), the most lightly-raced horse in the field with 10 outings under his belt, appeared for Newmarket-based Robert Cowell for the first time in a six-furlong conditions race on Polytrack at Kempton Park on October 11 and performed well to finish a neck second to Solomon’s Bay.
Previously trained in Ireland, the Lope De Vega horse has never raced over five furlongs before, having been campaigned at distances up to 10 furlongs.
The Roger Varian-trained six-year-old Atletico (Jack Mitchell) is unbeaten in two All-Weather starts, the most recent of which came last time out on November 23 in a course and distance handicap, when the Kodiac gelding was the comfortable winner from Bowson Fred. He is, however, the lowest-rated horse in the field on 97.
Final Venture (Paul Midgley/Paul Mulrennan), who finished seventh of 11 to Marsha in the G1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August but has not raced since September 13, completes the strong field for the Betway Conditions Stakes at Newcastle on Tuesday.