BANK ON ITALIAN JOB IN LISTED FEATURE
Marco Botti’s MALOTRU can make a winning return in the Listed Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Spring Cup Stakes (3.10) at Lingfield Park on Saturday – a Fast Track Qualifier for Good Friday’s £150,000 3YO Final.
This flashy looking son of Casamento is ready for the step up to 7f on the evidence of some classy form over shorter as a juvenile. He stayed on stoutly to be fourth in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York in August after pulling clear to win a Group 3 over 6f at the San Siro in his trainer’s native Italy.
Malotru, who proved himself on a turning track when scoring at Chelmsford City on debut, can be forgiven his slightly below-par performance in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes on his final start. He wasn’t disgraced that day, but hung his chance away after travelling sweetly into the race.
Being drawn out on the wing that day probably didn’t help but he is well berthed in gate six on Saturday and is re-united with top jockey Andrea Atzeni, who partnered him to that Italian success.
Top rated is Andrew Balding’s Sun Power, who ran some solid races at Listed level – including in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot - before refusing to settle in the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes on the Kempton Park Polytrack in September.
Over-racing became his Achilles heel after Ascot and he will have to settle better to win this. However, there’s a legitimate concern that he may again race with the choke out on this return from a lengthy break.
Kondratiev Wave andAmarillo Star are closely matched, having finished only a neck apart when first and second respectively in a Fast Track Qualifier at Kempton in January. Both promise to be effective over this easy 7f but have the best part of a stone to find with the principals on these terms.
The thorn in Malotru’s side could be Archie Watson exciting colt The Perfect Crown, who hasn’t run since making a big impression on his debut over 7f in a Chelmsford novice in November. He stretched eight lengths clear of nearest rival Corvair, who has since gone on to achieve a mark of 88.
Watson has a good record at pitching horses into higher grades and this half-brother to his first stakes winner Absolute Blast can acquit himself well from a favourable draw, even if a lack of experience may count against him.
Due to an administration error, the Spring Cup becomes an unprecedented fifth Fast Track Qualifier in the 3YO category this winter. That status should not have been afforded to the recent qualifier at Newcastle won by Lord Of The Lodge, whose place in the Final will nevertheless be honoured.
O’MEARA VETERAN READY FOR A WINNING RETURN
Veteran speedsters WATCHABLE and Royal Birth, who crossed swords with typical distinction in last weekend’s Listed Hever Sprint Stakes at Lingfield Park, go head-to-head again on Saturday in the Betway Casino Handicap(2.00) at the Surrey track.
David O’Meara’s 10-year-old overcame an unusually slow start to rattle home just behind Royal Birth and little more than a length behind progressive winner Hareem Queen on a track that generally suits his run style.
There’s nothing between them on paper in this re-match but I expect Watchable to come out on top if he breaks on terms, just as he did when the pair clashed in a similar event at Wolverhampton early in the month.
Richard Hughes’s Top Breeze, who is six years Watchable’s junior, is two from three on an artificial surface and promises to progress from his opening mark of 90 this year. Gelded at the end of last season, he has a good record fresh but hasn’t encountered Lingfield’s downhill turn so has something to prove on his first start since August.
2.00 LINGFIELD PARK, SATURDAY
3.10 LINGFIELD PARK, SATURDAY
Dean Ivory’s son of Sir Prancealot made up ground nicely in a 7f maiden at Lingfield on Tuesday when it paid to be closer to the pace. He didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs either but this first run since May will have blown away a few cobwebs and he can make an impact when he goes handicapping at a low level off a modest mark of 54, possibly over 1m.
This ex-Richard Hannon filly is still a maiden after 10 starts but has shown definite signs of ability, including when staying on to be third in a 9.5f handicap for Ian Williams at Wolverhampton on Monday. The daughter of Le Havre is on a fair mark in the mid-60s (she was placed off 78 on turf) and has probably been a shade unlucky to come across such progressive rivals as Beau Geste and Toro Dorado recently.
James Eustace’s gelding won’t bump into too many like Group One Power in novice company and can get off the mark soon. The form of his midfield debut at Lingfield has worked out well so it was no surprise to see him finish so close to the Andrew Balding favourite over the same 1m trip last Saturday. Given his stout pedigree, Dame Judy Dench’s gelding should come into his own over further in due course.
This US-bred colt ran a pleasing race on debut at Kempton Park, coming home fourth of 12 in a 1m maiden, and built on that by chasing home winner Media Storm over a longer trip at Wolverhampton last week. Marco Botti’s charge beat the 88-rated favourite Discovery Island over the extended 9f and looks one to keep on side in middle-distance handicaps this spring.