Ian Williams is set to saddle two soft ground-loving runners in the £350,000 Emirates Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket on Saturday.
Following Monday’s confirmation stage, the Williams pair of Time To Study and Darksideoftarnside are part of a 39-strong entry for this 180-year-old heritage handicap. It is run over the marathon journey of two and a quarter miles and has a maximum field size of 34.
Williams’ best chance probably rests with Time To Study, a five-year-old son of Motivator who was Group-placed in 2017 but has now dropped down to an official handicap rating of 97, 11lb below his highest mark.
Time To Study has been penalised 4lb for last month’s victory in the Old Borough Cup and he will be ridden by top apprentice jockey Cieren Fallon, claiming 3lb. 20-year-old Cieren is bidding to follow in the footsteps of his father, six-time British Champion jockey Kieren Fallon, who won this race on two occasions.
Darksideoftarnside is set to sneak into the Cesarewitch with a feather weight of 8st 2lb. He ran a great race at Ascot last Friday when he was only caught on the line in the Gordon Carter Handicap.
Williams said: "Time To Study showed a very willing attitude when winning the Old Borough Cup and should appreciate the likely soft ground on Saturday. The extra distance will not inconvenience him and Cieren will ride him again.
"Darksideoftarnside ran a very good race at Ascot and also loves slow ground. He is far from a total outsider.
"It would mean a great deal to me to win my first Emirates Cesarewitch [his previous best placing was second with London Prize in 2017]. It’s always very competitive, as you would expect for such decent prize money.
"It’s not the type of race you can ever expect to win and it is always hard to beat the likes of Willie Mullins. Sir Mark Prescott is another who looks to have a very strong hand this year – I just hope that conditions allow my pair to be competitive."
Irish trainer Willie Mullins ended a near 20-year wait for a first Cesarewitch triumph when Low Sun led home a 1-2 for the yard 12 months ago.
He is responsible for the 5-1 favourite in the ante post betting market, the Ascot Stakes runner-up, Buildmeupbuttercup, who Frankie Dettori will ride, plus two other leading fancies in Great White Shark and Stratum.
While Mullins finally broke his duck last season, Newmarket trainer Sir Mark Prescott is still hoping to win this, one of his local track’s signature handicaps, after almost half a century of trying. He has a good chance of ending that long drought on Saturday as he has two leading candidates in Timoshenko and Land Of Oz.
Timoshenko has won his last six races but has been seen only once in the last 14 months, when scoring over two and a half miles at Goodwood in August. Land Of Oz, by contrast, has had six outings since breaking his maiden at Yarmouth in July, winning five of them including the Heath Court Hotel Cesarewitch Trial over this course and distance three weeks ago.