Roger Charlton attempted to dampen the hype ahead of Withhold’s return to action in the Northumberland Plate.
The five-year-old landed a monster gamble in in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last October, but has not been seen in competitive action since.
Bookmakers have taken no chances, pricing him up as a hot favourite for the #150,000 feature at Gosforth Park, but Charlton warns his charge will improve for the run.
“I think he’s well, but you have to remember this is his first run of the year,” said the Beckhampton handler.
“We were planning to give him a prep race three weeks ago, but he wasn’t quite right at the time. Some of our horses have been slow to come to hand and we just had to hold him back.”
Charlton added: “I think he’ll improve. The draw (11) looks OK to me. This is his first run of what we hope will be a long season.
“This race has been one of the targets, but I don’t think people should get carried away just because he was an easy winner of the Cesarewitch.
“There are some good horses in this race.”
Robert Winston partners Withhold and feels his big-race mount plenty to overcome on his first start in over eight months.
“I’m delighted to riding him again, but it’s going to be tough on his first run back,” said Winston.
“His draw is good at least. You’d sooner be in 11 than 18, put it that way.
“I just think it’s a big ask first time out and back on the all-weather. There’s no pressure for me on Saturday as he’ll come on for the run.”
Lagostovegas was successful at Royal Ascot last week for Willie Mullins and his son and assistant Patrick says her well-being is the main reason she is out again quickly.
“It was a fantastic performance at Ascot, the first-time hood helped and Andrea Atzeni gave her a fantastic ride,” Mullins jnr said of the Ascot Stakes winner.
“It will be her first time on the all-weather, which is a bit of an unknown, but she’s at the bottom of the weights and will stay.
“She must have a good chance and she came out of the race so well there was nothing telling us not to run.
“Before Ascot we were worried about her staying two and a half (miles), so the trip is no worry here. It’s great prize-money and hopefully she can get some more sterling.
“She was home last Wednesday, came out of the race in great form so we decided to have another crack.”
James Fanshawe’s Higher Power was successful 12 months ago but is giving weight to all bar one of his rivals this time around and the last horse to win successive Plates was Tug Of War in 1977-78.
“He’s 1lb higher than last year but he loves the all-weather. He ran a good race last year and ran a good race at Chelmsford last time out as well,” said Fanshawe.
“He had a wind operation over the winter on the back of a couple of bad runs on turf. He had a break and we thought the race at Chelmsford would be a nice stepping stone for the Plate.
“I’m never that confident, especially for a race like the Plate where you need a lot of luck in running.
“The stats aren’t in his favour, but he does love the all-weather and he has got some class and he appears in good form.”
Fanshawe also runs Lord George, who finished fourth last year.
“He ran really well at Lingfield and the winner has franked the form since,” Fanshawe told At The Races.
“He loves it on the all-weather and he had a good winter. He’s taken on a new lease of life since he’s gone back on the all-weather.
“It’s very hard to separate them and hopefully they will be competing at the right end of the race.”
Mark Johnston’s Time To Study has been running in Listed and Group races this season and joins Higher Power at the head of the weights. The stable also run Watersmeet, third last year, and Soldier In Action.
“Time To Study has a lot of weight, but he’s earned it,” said Johnston.
“He’s the class horse in the race. He’s dropping down out of Pattern company back into a handicap and he’s proven over the trip.
“He’s going to take quite a lot of beating, but at the same time we’ve got Watersmeet in there, who is another very consistent horse, particularly on the all-weather. This race is tailor-made for him as well.”