Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
The form of last month’s Gp 1 Lockinge Stakes was let down by the poor run of the fourth home Dutch Connection in Haydock’s John Of Gaunt Stakes on Saturday. With Royal Ascot just over a week away I hope that Godolphin aim Benbatl at the opening Queen Anne Stakes given Lockinge winner Rhododendron is 3/1 market leader for the curtain-raiser over the straight mile.
Trainer Charlie Appleby must decide if his Dubai Turf winner over 9f will run in the Queen Anne (6/1 with BetVictor) or take on Cracksman in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes over 10f on the following day for which he is 8/1 with BetVictor. I would be very interested in Benbatl over Ascot’s stiff mile and hope Appleby gives him the green light for the Queen Anne.
There is a terrific mile-and-a-half handicap at Pontefract this evening and if the ground is good to firm then I feel Manjaam (8.10) can follow up his recent York win from a 4lbs higher mark for Ed Dunlop.
My Reward will ensure the race is run at a decent clip and he ran very well for a long way in the Chester Cup last time. Tim Easterby’s string are in excellent form of late and his 6-y-old is worth a try at this trip but I favour the Newmarket raider – with the caveat he must have fast ground.
Roundhay Park looked ready for a step up to 6f for the first time when fourth at York on his latest start last month when he finished well having missed the break over five furlongs. The vote, however, goes to Prestbury Park (7.40) who should appreciate this stiff finish and represents in inform yard of Mark Johnston.
In the Stayers event over 2m 1f I hope to see Becky The Thatcher (7.10) follow up last month’s Carlisle win at this trip from an 8lbs lower mark. The selection has a bit to find with Wemyss Point on previous course form but that was over and additional half-mile and preference is for Micky Hammond’s mare whose recent win has been boosted by the success of runner up Wor Lass at Musselburgh earlier in the month.
Prestbury Park 7/2
Becky The Thatcher 10/3
In Windsor’s opener I think Nine Below Zero (5.50) can go one better than when second over this evening’s C&D when posted wide and the hope is that Harry Bentley can take advantage of a decent draw next to the stands’ rail for Ralph Beckett.
Awesome chased a strong pace at Chester last time and hinted that the drop back to the minimum trip would suit and the Clive Cox filly represents a big danger in what promises to be an informative sprint.
Another Eclipse (7.20) steps back up in trip having been too keen over a trip short of his best at Newmarket on his reappearance. Trainer David Simcock had a good winner at Goodwood on Friday evening and Jamie Spencer has certainly been in good form of late in the saddle.
A 4lbs rise might not be enough to prevent Dream Machine follow up his recent C&D success for Neil Mulholland with Jamie Spencer takes over in the saddle from Adam Kirby. Kirby is not in the plate tonight as he rides Come On Come On (8.20) who is taken to go one better than when second here last month from a 1lbs lower mark.
Note the winning time of Come On Come On’s race was over a second faster than that of Dream Machine on similar ground – albeit a week apart.
Nine Below Zero 9/2
Another Eclipse 5/1
Come On Come On 15/8
At Worcester League Of His Own (2.15) is 10lbs out of the handicap bur Harry Reed takes off a valuable 5lbs and the 9-year-old has been running well between the flags. If he gets an uncontested lead it is possible that this front-runner can make all in a race that might not take too much winning.
It was only last August that Kilfinichen Bay (2.45) was beaten five lengths over today’s C&D from a mark of 133 under Johnny Burke and he can run from a mark 24lbs lower this afternoon having re-joined the yard of Charlie Longsdon after a poor time Hunter Chasing. There is no question he is well handicapped and he is given the each way vote.
Top-weight Powerful Symbol has fallen in two of his last three starts but he had jumped well before getting in too close to the third last at Market Rasen last time and is considered a big danger.
League Of His Own 5/4
Kilfinichen Bay 4/1