Trainer Justin Warwick cites the quality of opposition as his biggest concern when Material Man launches his winter campaign in the Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) on Saturday.
Material Man races first-up in the Belmont Park feature, but meets a hot line-up including Group One champions, Pounamu, Great Shot and resurgent galloper Battle Hero.
After two 950m Lark Hill trials, Material Man returns to racing after defeating Pounamu in a thrilling conclusion to the Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) at Ascot on January 1.
The Vital Equine gelding, who holds a strong fresh record, has opened at $4.20 with the TAB. Battle Hero ($3.30) and Pounamu ($3.60) are battling for favouritism.
Warwick’s daughter Lucy, retains the ride on Material Man, who has drawn barrier seven in a field of 11 starters.
“I think he is in pretty good order, but what worries me is the opposition look like they are as well,” Warwick said on Tabradio.
“It’s a pretty good bunch of horses lined up and probably the strongest field as I can remember for this time of the year.
“There are top class sprinters at the end of their tether and a couple of stayers coming from the other side.
“It will be a really good race and he is ready to run without hurting himself.”
The Belmont Sprint, a race won by Warwick two years ago when he prepared Wink And A Nod, kick starts Material Man’s winter campaign before a possible eastern states trip.
A Melbourne trip in the spring is on the cards, but won’t be determined until after the Group 3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m) and Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m) in June.
“It’s a 50-50 call at this stage, but we will get through these races here,” Warwick said.
“I mean the easiest option for me is to stay here.
“Michael McDermott (owner) is pretty keen on heading away, but we will just sort of see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Warwick is optimistic consistent mare Elegant Blast can return to the winner’s list in a 2200m handicap race.
A winner two starts back, she has since run two narrow seconds when beaten a short-neck and long-neck respectively.
“She is ready to run a great race,” Warwick said.
“She gets in well at the weights.
“She has been knocking on the door at her last couple and just needs things to go her way.”