Great White Shark bids to provide Willie Mullins with a third straight victory in the Together For Racing International Cesarewitch at Newmarket on Saturday.
Ireland’s perennial champion jumps trainer broke his duck in the prestigious staying handicap with Low Sun in 2018, and doubled his tally 12 months ago with Stratum.
Great White Shark finished only 10th in last year’s renewal, but returns to the Rowley Mile in excellent form, having landed a valuable handicap hurdle at the Galway Festival on her latest appearance.
Four days earlier, the Malcolm Denmark-owned mare had finished seventh on the Flat, beaten little over two lengths by the remarkable Princess Zoe, who last weekend grabbed Group One glory in Paris for Mullins’ brother, Tony.
Mullins said: “I’m very pleased with her heading over there.
“She was good over hurdles the last day and her run behind Princess Zoe doesn’t look too bad now, does it?
“She stays well and handles soft ground, so that shouldn’t be any problem to her.”
Great White Shark is joined at the head of the market by Andrew Balding’s three-year-old Coltrane, the David Pipe-trained Leoncavallo and Not So Sleepy from Hughie Morrison’s yard.
Coltrane has had this two-mile-two-furlong contest as his primary target ever since completing a hat-trick for the season in the Melrose Handicap at York in August.
Balding, who also saddles Diocletian and Cleonte, said: “The weight-for-age allowance for three-year-olds is obviously attractive for Coltrane and he won the Melrose well.
“This looked the most logical target after York. It’s obviously a tough race and he has a wide draw (34), I don’t know how that will play out, but the horse is in good form.
“Cleonte needed his comeback run after nearly a year off last month and seems in good form. Diocletian has solid handicap form and at his best would also have each-way claims.”
High-class dual-purpose performer Not So Sleepy carries a 4lb penalty for winning on his return to action at Pontefract last month – his first start since being pulled up in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
“We were very happy with his comeback run at Pontefract. We’ve just kept him ticking over since then and we are very much looking forward to the race,” said Morrison.
“He ran a very good race to finish fourth in it last year. He’ll have to raise his game to better that on Saturday, but he had a break during the summer, so he’s a fresh horse and we’re ever hopeful.
“It’s a long way – two miles and two furlongs. Fingers crossed for a bit of a luck.”
Other contenders in a huge field include William Muir’s Just Hubert, Mark Johnston’s pair of Mondain and Summer Moon and Rock Eagle from Ralph Beckett’s yard.