Trainer Helen Harding is taking a cautious approach with Washington Square in the Ray’s Contracting Handicap (1200m) at Esperance on Saturday.

On talent Washington Square holds strong appeal and with a fitness edge he looks hard to beat, but Harding remains guarded about his chances.

“He is a real nervous horse who is a barrier rogue,” Harding said.

“You never really know what you are going to get once the gates are open.

“He is a really quiet horse at home but just plays up behind the gates.”

“He is good enough to win but I’m a bit nervous.”

Washington Square is two starts into his preparation after a campaign in Albany.

He was in the mix for a win at his previous start but was beaten for third in a photo-finish.

He meets a field of eight rivals who are stepping out for their first starts this campaign.

Ben Kennedy will handle Washington Square from the widest barrier.

“Ben will suit him because he needs a strong rider,” Harding said.

“His run in Albany was good and he was there to win it.

“Because of his nervousness I elected to target Esperance instead.

“The trip to Albany was taking a bit out of him.”

Washington Square raced in Melbourne for co-trainers Matthew Ellerton and Mark Zahra in Melbourne before transferring to Adam Durrant at Karnup.

He showed promising signs with a win and a second placing from his three outings at Ascot before teaming up with the Harding camp earlier this year.

Harding takes a two-pronged attack but says Washington Square has the advantage over Hockney who has not raced since finishing 10th of 15 to Dancing Anna at Esperance in January.

RWWA: Julio Santarelli