GRENDISAR HAS THE CLASS TO BOUNCE BACK IN BETWAY QUEBEC STAKES
Reigning Middle Distance Champion GRENDISAR can put a disappointing re-appearance behind him when he returns to action in the Listed Betway Quebec Stakes at Lingfield Park on Saturday (2.00).
Marco Botti's star could finish only fourth in the Listed Churchill Stakes over the same 10 furlongs last month but the six-year-old has the class to put that unexpected defeat behind him.
He found himself too far back in a slowly run race and was also entitled to have lacked his usual sharpness after a six-month lay off.
That said, the informative sectional timings on the At The Races website reveal that Grendisar ran the fastest furlong from the two pole to one out, posting a blistering 10.7 secs before his challenge petered out. In effect, he had to use his proven turn of foot in the wrong part of the race.
Botti confirms his Winter Derby and Easter Classic hero in fine fettle for a race he finished second in last year en route to confirming himself the undisputed Middle Distance King. "I'm very happy with him and this race has always been a target," says the Italian.
"I wasn't disappointed with him in the Churchill as he was further back than ideal when he began his challenge. Also, he may have been a bit ring rusty after such a long time off but should be sharper on Saturday."
With Adam Kirby suspended, George Baker comes in for a plum ride and should perfectly complement Grendisar’s favoured run style.
Top rated in the Quebec off a mark of 112, Grendisar can turn the tables on admirable Churchill runner-up Educate, who was no match for his race-sharp rival in the 2015 Winter Derby over course and distance.
Meanwhile, Battalion made an immediate impact for new trainer Jamie Osborne in a conditions event at this track last time and the 2014 Churchill Stakes winner is also entitled to go well, but remember that he, too, has been well beaten by Grendisar - on three occasions.
An unknown quantity in All-Weather terms is Saeed Bin Suroor's filly Dubai Fashion, who dug deep to be second in a 10f Listed contest at Doncaster last month but that run, along with her staying on second over the same trip at Newcastle, suggests she could find this test on the sharp side.
It wouldn’t have been a big surprise to see Churchill Stakes winner Team Talk (presumably off to Dubai) representing the same stable instead.
BARYE TO PROVE HIMSELF A MARATHON CONTENDER
BARYE was emerging as an exciting Marathon Championship contender last season until an injury put paid to his participation in the Good Friday Final, but Richard Hughes’s stayer can get his career back on track in the Download The Betway App Handicap (12.15) at Lingfield on Saturday.
He made my Eyecatchers shortlist last week with a highly encouraging run in a muddling race at Wolverhampton and looks up to defying top weight in a race he dominated 12 months ago.
Travelling behind a steady early pace at Dunstall Park, Barye cruised through the gears to finish on the heels of the leading group and post his best performance since returning from that injury sustained at Chelmsford just three weeks before last season’s Final.
His regular jockey Shane Kelly tells me: “We were very pleased with him at Wolverhampton. The way the race panned out just didn’t suit him. He needs a strong gallop and hopefully we’ll get that on Saturday. He’s proven around Lingfield and has the speed to cope well with this trip, even though he promises to the Final trip of 2m.”
HELP YOURSELF TO A BARGAIN
William Haggas has already qualified Muffri’Ha for the Fillies and Mares Final on Good Friday, but could have another contender on his hands in BARGAIN BUY who re-appears in the EBF Stallions Breeding Winners Fillies’ Conditions Stakes (1.25) at Lingfield on Saturday.
This unexposed three-year-old looked potentially smart when landing a 7f handicap at Lingfield at the end of November on her return from a lengthy break. She also proved she stays 1m well by winning at Carlisle in the summer.
David Elsworth’s Somethingthrilling won a course and distance handicap last month off a mark of 79 and was far from disgraced behind the smart Battalion in a conditions race over 10f at Lingfield last time despite being well out of it at the weights.
A 6lb rise for those exploits has no doubt made it difficult to find suitable opportunities in handicaps but she rates a danger on these terms, while Bint Dandy has run better than her form figures suggest in hot races behind Lord Of The Land and Volunteer Point.
LINGFIELD SATURDAY SELECTIONS
1.25 BARGAIN BUY
2.00 GRENDISAR (Nap)
This five-year-old EXAMINER , a winner on turf at Epsom in the summer, is a relative newcomer to the All-Weather but produced a smart turn of foot to finish third in a hot handicap at Wolverhampton last Saturday behind the progressive Mythical Madness.
Examiner, trained by the shrewd Stuart Williams, was dropped in from a poor draw by Sean Levey before accelerating into contention from the rear of the field turning in.
Considering this race was run at such a modest early pace, this was most definitely a performance to build upon. It’s also worth noting that this horse had a record of three from five on synthetics for his initial trainer William Haggas.
Ian Williams’ ex-French gelding BURNSIDE showed a gritty determination to almost gain his first Flat victory at the seventh attempt in a 1m4f handicap at Wolverhampton last weekend.
In fact, he looked likely to get his head in front following a protracted duel with in-form long-time leader Threediamondrings, only to be denied in the dying strides by the fast-finishing Galilee Chapel.
The way he keeps on finding in his races suggests to me that a step up in distance could be the key to breaking his duck, so an entry in a 2m handicap at Lingfield on Sunday shouldn’t be overlooked.
John Gosden has a whole wealth of untapped talent to introduce on the All-Weather, and whilst some will prove smarter than this colt PERCY B SHELLEY , there was still plenty to admire about his racecourse debut in a 9.5f Wolverhampton maiden on Monday.
This son of Archipenko, who cost 60,000gns as a yearling finished strongly from the rear under a hand ride by Nicky Mackay to be a closing fifth behind better fancied stable companion Hertford Dancer.
A half-brother to several winners including Godolphin’s smart Group 2 winner Hatta Fort, Percy B Shelley can progress to win his maiden in the coming weeks.
Trainer Roger Fell told me before Saturday’s Newcastle handicap that a big run was expected from FUWAIRT , who certainly didn’t disappoint.
He travelled smoothly to chase through eventual winner Steel Train over 7f, confirming himself well handicapped.
Fell is the first to admit that his four-year-old isn’t the most straightforward, but this was the second solid run he’s put together in succession on the sand.
He may have been a shade unlucky to bump into two progressive winners this term, but even allowing for a small rise, this ex-Richard Hannon gelding looks poised to go one better.