Trainer Justin Warwick cites weight as the biggest threat to Material Man winning the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Material Man enters the $1 million feature first-up after an injury interrupted preparation that prevented a Melbourne spring campaign.
Material Man was set for an ambitious Group 1 assault in the Cox Plate (2040m), Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Melbourne Cup (3200m).
But hoof problems have kept him out of racing since he won a feature treble in June that clinched WA racehorse-of-the year honours.
Sharing the title with Pounamu, Material Man won the Belmont Sprint (1400m), the Hyperion Stakes (1600m) and Strickland Stakes (2000m).
Material Man shoulders the 57kg top weight in the Railway Stakes. The Vital Equine gelding, drawn in barrier five, will be ridden by Lucy Warwick.
Material Man tuned up for the Railway Stakes when he won an 1100m Lark Hill trial, his fifth trial since the Strickland Stakes in June.
Warwick says fitness won’t be the enemy of Material Man.
“The horse is as good as he has ever been,” Warwick told Tabradio.
“The only thing I am not happy about is we have to carry more weight than anyone else.
“But I can’t do anything about that, otherwise he is fine and he will run the race of his life as he normally does.
“Barrier five makes the three or four days leading into the race a lot better than barrier 15.
“A perfect barrier and everything should be good for the first couple of hundred metres.
“He has been ready to race for a long time, but for one reason or another we haven’t got there.”
Material Man ran fifth behind Great Shot in last year’s Railway Stakes, beaten just under a length.
Warwick is confident the gelding is an improved horse 12-months further on.
“I thought it was the worst run he put in for a long time,” Warwick said.
“I went back at what I was doing and changed a few things because I think he was too tired.
“I think we have seen a lot better horse since that day and I’ve learnt a lot out of the race.”
Material Man is rated a $14 chance with TABtouch. Warwick believes the seven-year-old is underestimated.
“He is overs at the 14s,” Warwick said.
“Have a go.”