TITLE LEADER KIRBY TO STRIKE IN MILE FEATURE
Adam Kirby continues to blaze the trail in his quest to regain the jockeys’ championship and can chalk up another notable winner with AL JELLABY in the Sun Racing No1 Racing Site Handicap (3.40) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.
The four-year-old is entitled to be sharper for his re-appearance at Kempton in the New Year - his first start since being gelded - when he rallied to finish a close third in a competitive 1m handicap.
Clive Cox’s runner attempted to justify favouritism from the front that day but can be just as effective stalking the pace as Kirby will probably elect to do from his draw in stall eight.
Raised 2lb for that performance, he remains unexposed on synthetics and shouldn’t have any problem navigating this sharp track.
Respected is top weight Ballard Down, who travelled like the winner on his first start in six months at Newcastle last time, only to be run out of it close to home. David O’Meara’s gelding is well handicapped on his best form and should be involved.
Giving 5lb to Al Jellaby may prove a tough task, however, while Scofflaw should go well under his featherweight. He won under Kirby since having his Kempton second franked by the winner Pinnata at Newcastle in midweek and Gina Mangan’s 7lb claim more than off-sets his latest 4lb rise.
THREE WEEKS HAS NOTHING TO FEAR
He steps back up in trip after scoring over 1m at Southwell last time but should have no stamina issues judged on his excellent second to the classy Corelli over Saturday’s distance on the Fibresand in November.
He is also proven on this very different track, having won over 1m here for previous trainer William Haggas.
Course and distance winner Fearsome will be all the rage in this four-runner heat after bolting up for Adam Kirby at Wolverhampton on Monday - his third win in succession - and Josh Bryan’s 3lb claim cuts his penalty in half.
There’s a danger he could feel the effects of two quick runs, though, and he takes on stronger opposition on this step up in grade.
Come On Come On, the mount of Kirby for his boss Clive Cox, shouldn’t be under-estimated either on his first start in blinkers following a four-month break, while last season’s Winter Derby third Battle Of Marathon would be a danger to all three rivals at his best but remains in the doldrums.
3.05 LINGFIELD, SATURDAY
3.40 LINGFIELD, SATURDAY
AL JELLABY (Nap)
Andrew Balding’s four-year-old was returning from a long lay off in Tuesday’s 5f Fast Track Qualifier at Newcastle but made a favourable impression on his first start since being gelded. Despite being a shade keen, he finished well to be a close third behind top rated favourite Encore D’Or. He was classy enough to be fourth in last year’s Commonwealth Cup over 6f at Royal Ascot and gave the impression a return to that trip will see him land another decent prize.
This newcomer was sent off a friendless 40-1 in a decent 7f maiden at Wolverhampton last weekend but conjured a promising performance, flying home against the pace bias from a wide position to finish a closing second. His trainer Paul George told me he expected a big run from a colt who had been showing plenty at home despite being picked up from Godolphin in November for just £5,500. He should be winning soon.
Archie Watson spoke well of this new recruit from the powerful Irish stable of Dermot Weld in his Stable Tour on this site and this yard debut was highly encouraging. Gelded since his last run, this lightly raced 45,000 euro purchase picked up well over 10f only to tire in the closing stages. He’s entitled to come on for this and his talented young trainer should find him an opening in the near future.
Sir Mark Prescott’s gelding left the form of his backward debut at Wolverhampton well behind to finish second to a potentially useful sprinter in a 6f novice stakes at Newcastle last week. This powerfully built son of Mastercraftsman showed genuine speed until getting run out of it up this stiff finish and will be of particular interest once he qualifies for handicaps.