GOSDEN HOLDS THE ACES IN WEAK QUALIFIER
John Gosden holds the aces in Saturday’s Listed Betway Churchill Stakes at Lingfield Park (2.45) - a 10f Fast Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Easter Classic on Good Friday.
Destined to follow a similar path to the stable’s All-Weather ace of last season, Wissahickon, the gelded son of Dubawi has progressed rapidly this autumn, winning the Cambridgeshire and the Listed James Seymour Stakes at Newmarket over this weekend’s trip.
Second in the valuable Balmoral Handicap on Champions’ Day in between, Lord North has the credentials to star in the Middle Distance division this winter and should secure his place in the Final with the minimum of fuss.
Gosden’s other runner Crossed Baton is a useful performer in his own right but doesn’t match up to Lord North. He could easily prove the best of the rest, however, particularly if first-time cheekpieces have the desired effect.
Ed Walker’s Caradoc has improved 11lb for two handicap wins on turf but still has a mountain to climb off level weights if he is to spring an upset on his return from a break over a test that could prove too sharp.
VeteranPactolus has definite place claims, too. Stuart Williams’s gallant eight-year-old was third in both the Winter Derby and the Easter Classic last season at 40-1 and showed at Kempton recently that he still has the appetite for a battle.
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY FOR BARRON VETERAN
On the face of it, 6f around Lingfield could be on a sharp side for David Barron’s admirable veteran ABOVE THE REST, but an ordinary renewal of the Listed Betway Golden Rose Stakes (3.15) could fall into his lap.
Trailblazing key rivals Gifted Master and Corinthia Knight may struggle to stretch the field from wide draws so Barron’s eight-year-old could find himself well placed to improve upon last season’s fast-finishing fourth in a stronger race.
Above The Rest – a Listed winner over 7f at Wolverhampton last season - swept past both those opponents that day and can at least make the frame in this Fast Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Sprint Final on Good Friday.
Judicial is interesting on his belated return to synthetics but a 3lb penalty for his Listed success in the Beverley Bullet, along with a wide draw in stall 12, heightens his task.
FAHEY FILLY READY FOR STEP UP IN CLASS
Richard Fahey’s rapidly improving filly EVA MARIA looks the value option in the British Stallion Studs EBF Gillies Fillies’ Stakes (2.10) at Lingfield Park on Saturday – a race salvaged from rain-sodden Doncaster.
She is potentially ahead of her revised mark after comfortably winning a fillies’ handicap at Newmarket last month over the same 10f trip so is well equipped to match strides with her higher rated rivals.
Among them is John Gosden’s Scentasia, who has 9lb in hand of Eva Maria on official figures but isn’t guaranteed to confirm that superiority. She impressed when winning a Listed Fast Track Qualifier over 1m here last month, but it’s worth noting that she was well behind Fahey’s filly when too keen on the Rowley Mile.
It was heartening to see Charlie Appleby’s Magic Lily return from two years off to go close in Listed company in France last month but the draw has been unkind to the sparely raced daughter of New Approach whose chances must be severely compromised from the widest berth in stall 14.
GOSDEN COLT A GROUP PROSPECT
ALRAJAA, who held an entry in the Listed Churchill Stakes on the same card, has the scope to become a Group horse next year and should get the job done in the Bombardier Golden Beer Handicap(1.00) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.
John Gosden’s gelding can initiate a successful day for his trainer by defying a mark of 100 in the mile contest, which offers early pointers to Good Friday’s Mile Final.
The son of Dubawi has thrived since returning from a lengthy lay-off, dominating a Chepstow novice by nine lengths before stamping his class on mile handicaps at Chelmsford City and Kempton Park.
In fact, he overcame an 11lb rise to score at Kempton and, despite being hiked up another seven, still promises to have too much in hand for some solid but mainly exposed rivals.
1.00 LINGFIELD, SATURDAY
2.10 LINGFIELD, SATURDAY
EVA MARIA (ew)
2.45 LINGFIELD, SATURDAY
3.15 LINGFIELD, SATURDAY
ABOVE THE REST (ew)