BALDING TO PLAY IT STRAIGHT IN LINGFIELD TRIAL
Good Friday contender STRAIGHT RIGHT has a clear chance at the weights and should capitalise on a winning opportunity in the Follow Sun Racing On Twitter Conditions Stakes (2.15) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.
Better was expected of Andrew Balding’s improving five-year-old when he ran in the Listed Hyde Stakes at Kempton Park in November - a Fast Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Mile Final on 19th April.
He could finish only fifth but ran on from a poor position after encountering trouble in running behind eventual scorer Flaming Spear. Traffic issues are unlikely in this five-runner field so I expect the former French Listed winner to take this 1m dress rehearsal in his stride under young jockey Rob Hornby.
Brian Meehan’s useful All-Weather performer won the valuable apprentice handicap on Finals Day in March, but that was over 7f and he hasn’t managed to win in seven tries at this kind of trip.
David Simcock’s Calling Out is a course and distance winner and bounced back to form with an overdue success over 1m at Chelmsford City last time on his return from a long lay-off. He has achieved much of his more recent success over longer trips, however, and gives me the feeling he might find this easy mile too sharp.
Champion trainer Mick Appleby pitches in his new recruit Book Of Dreams, a former Mark Johnston winner who was bought cheaply at the autumn sales for just 5,000gns considering he is rated a lofty 93.
He looked to be going places when landing a valuable 1m handicap at Chelmsford City last summer but hasn’t run since and needs to be watched in the face of such a demanding task.
MATTERHORN READY TO SCALE NEW HEIGHTS
The Betway Handicap (1.15) at Lingfield Park on Saturday is a fascinating trial for progressive horses with aspirations to make it to the Group 3 Winter Derby and the £200,000 Easter Classic.
Among black them is Mark Johnston’s highly progressive colt MATTERHORN, who has won three of his four starts on The All-Weather including a mile handicap at this track in December.
Successful over that distance at Southwell since, this powerful son of Raven’s Pass is bred to relish the step up in trip and can defy a 7lb rise to win this off his new mark of 93.
Indeed, victory on Saturday would put him on the cusp of a crack at next month’s Listed Winter Derby Trial over the same course and distance.
The dark horse in the line-up is another Mick Appleby newcomer Shargiah, who was bought out of Roger Varian’s stable for 25,000 gns at the autumn sales.
This son of New Approach rattled up a hat-trick in the spring of 2017, including a 10f victory at Newcastle, but hasn’t run since. His fitness has to be taken on trust but he will look a cheap horse if he can resume at anywhere near the level of his last run at Sandown Park.
By contrast, Linda Jewell’s veteran Breden has been thriving in 1m handicaps and won’t be inconvenienced by this step up in trip. He has won at the distance and presents the most obvious danger to me selection off a mark just 2lb higher than the one he carried to victory at Chelmsford before Christmas.
GEORGE TO LORD IT UP IN KEMPTON MARATHON
James Fanshawe’s stayer ran creditably over course and distance on his return from a break when chasing home Watersmeet in November and had excuses over an inadequate trip at Lingfield last time.
He did well to plug on for third that day in a muddling 1m4f handicap won by the red-hot Redicean but will be a much more potent proposition back over his optimum trip.
Lord George is a course and distance winner who came within a whisker of beating French raider Funny Kid over a similar test on Good Friday and was good enough to be a close fourth in the 2017 Northumberland Plate.
He gives weight away all-round but can stamp his class under the excellent Adam Kirby.
1.15 LINGFIELD PARK, SATURDAY
2.15 LINGFIELD PARK, SATURDAY
6.15 KEMPTON PARK, SATURDAY