TIME FOR WARRIOR TO COME OF AGE
John Gosden’s exciting three-year-old DUBAI WARRIOR - touted as a possible Derby horse back in the winter - can finally come of age in the Listed Betway Quebec Stakes (2.00) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.
The imposing son of Dansili has won three of his four starts on the All-Weather, getting his career firmly back on track in a Chelmsford handicap last month under Saturday’s pilot Robert Havlin.
Dubai Warrior put a disappointing effort in a Longchamp Group 3 behind him that day and can stake his claim for a crack at the Winter Derby and the Easter Classic with a dominant display on his favoured surface.
Gosden, who has an embarrassment of riches in the Middle Distance category, also runs Winter Derby runner-up Court House, who should at least ensure an even gallop, but sidesteps the race with Listed Churchill Stakes winner Crossed Baton.
Dalgarno sprung a surprise when winning a Listed Fast Track Qualifier in France last month, despite being wrong at the weights with some smart opposition, and mustn’t be under-estimated here.
He remains unexposed on synthetics but a penalty for that success in Deauville, as well as conceding Dubai Warrior’s 2lb age allowance, makes his task a little tougher on these terms.
Also receiving weight from Jane Chapple-Hyam’s runner is 2017 Easter Classic winner Victory Bond, who made a belated return to form in a course and distance handicap last time and is the benchmark performer in a line-up that, like November’s Churchill Stakes over course and distance, disappointingly lacks depth.
FOCUS ON VISION IN FILLIES’ FEATURE
Simon Crisford’s well bred filly VISIONARA can provide the answer to a tricky Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost/Irish EBF Fillies’ Conditions Stakes (1.30) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.
The daughter of Kingman hasn’t progressed as probably expected since winning a course and distance handicap in August but has run some solid races in defeat and may just be given an edge by the addition of first-time cheekpieces.
Visionara is young enough to improve with racing and can stake an early claim for a place in the Fillies’ and Mares’ Final over course and distance on Good Friday.
She has 17lb to find with top rated Lucymai but Dean Ivory’s mare hasn’t done enough in two starts back from a lengthy lay off to suggest she can perform to that mark - a comment that also applies to the 92-rated Rock On Baileys.
FIRE READY TO BLAZE BACK TO FORM FOR JOHNSTON
Mark Johnston’s veteran hinted he was on the way back when staying on to be fourth in a good quality handicap at Wolverhampton last time and returns to the scene of one of his finest moments.
A Listed winner in his pomp, he came within an ace of winning the East Classic in 2016 and was beaten less than a length in a course and distance handicap off an 8lb higher mark in the spring.
Just behind Busy Street at Wolverhampton last time on his second run back from a break, he can turn the tables at a track that Mick Appleby’s runner may not be as effective on.
Scarlet Dragon makes a quick re-appearance after running over hurdles at Doncaster only last week and has been given a chance by the handicapper, but it’s worth noting he hasn’t won on the level in 18 starts.
1.30 LINGFIELD PARK, SATURDAY
2.00 LINGFIELD PARK, SATURDAY
DUBAI WARRIOR (Nap)
2.35 LINGFIELD PARK, SATURDAY
James Fanshawe’s gelding has won three times over 1m on the All-Weather and looked as though he was crying out for a return to that trip when finishing strongly to be fifth in the feature 7f handicap at Newcastle on Wednesday in a race run in record time. This was his first start since July and he looks capable of defying what is likely to be an unchanged mark in the coming weeks.
This three-year-old has proven a revelation since being switched to the All-Weather and can supplement his Newcastle double next time. Of course, the handicapper will have his say after seeing him fly home in a 6f handicap on Wednesday but another rise may not be enough to halt his progress. Barry McHugh said the gelding got him out of jail after being switched for a run and believes he is only just beginning to get the hang of racing after “doing everything the wrong way round.” This son of Foxwedge has all the hallmarks of a smart All-Weather horse: a high cruising speed and a lethal turn of foot.
There was plenty to admire about this gelding’s belated debut in a 9.5f median auction novice stakes at Wolverhampton on Monday, when he stuck on with purpose to finish a closing third at odds of 80-1. His trainer Ivan Furtado confirmed the April-born two-year-old’s work prior to the race to have been encouraging and the son of Casamento should build on his performance next time with that initial experience under his girth.
Philip Kirby told me on Sky Sports Racing that he expected Godolphin cast-off Ice Pyramid to need the run at Newcastle last weekend after being off the track since January, but he gave his trainer a pleasant surprise by staying on gamely to be third in an extended 1m4f novice stakes. He was beaten only half a length and, given that he should be sharper for his forthcoming handicap debut, can surely take advantage of an opening mark of 75. A campaign over hurdles may now be postponed following that promising display, added Kirby.