ALL eyes will be on Workforce as the Derby and Arc hero makes his eagerly-awaited seasonal debut in the Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown tonight.
Despite his obvious claims, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt has not been handed a simple task.
He has to give all his rivals 7lb and he was beaten at his only previous attempt at a mile and a quarter in the Dante Stakes at York last May.
“He’s doing fine and he’s come on OK, but he’s got to give 7lb away, said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.
“This race was always a possibility to start him off for the season and hopefully we’ll get him back on track and make a plan from there.
“It’s a stiff uphill finish, the ground will be good. He’s not run there but he actually worked there before the Arc.”
In contrast, Elusive Pimpernel is stepping up in distance. The 2010 Craven Stakes winner was third to Ransom Note over nine furlongs at Newmarket in his first run since he finished fifth in the 2000 Guineas last term.
“He (Workforce) is an Arc and Derby winner so I suppose he’s entitled to have that penalty,” said trainer John Dunlop.
“He’s never tried a mile and a quarter but I think he will stay.
“It was nine furlongs at Newmarket and he was getting tired. We might just find that he doesn’t stay.”
Stoute believes Workforce will benefit greatly from his first run of the season.
“He’s done very well physically but I think he’s really going to need this race,” the Newmarket trainer told At The Races.
“We decided we wouldn’t be in a rush with him this year. His first possible target was the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but we thought we wouldn’t take him all the way to Ireland and the race looked tough enough with So You Think.
“We’ve ended up going to Sandown but it’s a race I don’t particularly like because he’s got a 7lb penalty which is very tough.
“He’s going back two furlongs as well. I think the main thing is to get his season started and I’ll be glad just to get him back on the racecourse.
“We’ve got him in the Eclipse and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. We’ll see what happens tomorrow night and then review it.”
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