Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
Roaring Lion had to survive a lengthy Stewards’ Enquiry after the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday but justice was eventually done and John Gosden’s colt was a worthy – and I thought a convincing winner – on the day.
Jockey Oisin Murphy was forced to come three or four horses wide on the turn into the home straight as a result of Wayne Lordan’s tactics aboard Aidan O’Brien’s Happily – a stablemate of runner up Saxon Warrior who ran a good race back in trip, having been a beaten favourite in both the Derby and Irish equivalent.
Roaring Lion is 3/1 favourite (from 5s) for the Juddmonte International at York next month with Poets Word 4/1, Enable, Saxon Warrior and Masar 5s and 8s Bar. Fast ground looks important to John Gosden’s three-year-old and the Breeders’ Cup Turf was nominated as a possible end-of-season target by connections.
In the opener at Worcester this afternoon Follow The Swallow continues to frustrate, but is weighted to go close – preference, however, is for Culm Counsellor (1.50) in a first-time tongue-tie. The selection has been dropped 5lbs for his recent comeback when he looked in need of the outing and this strong traveller should be staying on when others have cried enough.
The 2m 4f Handicap Chase is a cracker and all seven can be given a realistic chance. Newton Geronimo is only 4lbs higher than when scoring over C&D last month but my two against the field are Voix D’Eau – may have helped force too strong a pace last time – and The Last But One (2.20) with marginal preference for the Paul Nicholls trained runner who switches back to fences having ran an excellent race over timber last time.
Tommy Hallinan (3.55) won on the flat on fast ground in Ireland for Willie McCreery and ran a good race at Stratford on just his second start over hurdles – failed to cope with soft ground back in December. The Irish flat success was gained from the front on fast ground and it would be no surprise if jockey Sam Twiston-Davies made more use of his mount this afternoon.
Aardwolf (5.30) won the Stratford contest that Tommy Hallinan finished third in last month and he might be well-treated switched to handicapping as he chases a quick hat-trick. Richard Johnson has been in the plate for his last two wins and Warren Greatrex’a four-year-old looks ahead of the handicapper given he was rated in the 80s on the level for Mark Johnston.
Culm Counsellor 10/1
The Last But One 11/4
Tommy Hallinan 7/2
Four Kingdoms (4.40) looked a non-stayer on his first start for his new yard over two miles last time and the drop to this intermediate trip 1m 5f trip looks ideal. Braes Of Lochalsh won this corresponding race three years ago and is only 2lbs higher than when scoring over slightly further here last time.
Four Kingdoms 7/2
A market move for Voluminous would be worth noting in the mile-and-a-half handicap at Wolverhampton but My Fantasea (4.50) is in the form of his life at present and he ran out a ready winner at Doncaster last time for Ian Williams. The selection is equally effective on the all-weather and he only went down by a head over today’s C&D from a 1lbs lower mark last month.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Refrain (5.20) is bred to be better than a 65-rated horse and he begins life in handicaps from what could be a very favourable looking mark stepped up to 12f for the first time. He was beaten 12L at Lingfield last time but the winner – Wissahickon – is now rated 101.
Atticus Boy is only 4lbs higher than when scoring at Kempton last time but Drop D’Or (5.55) looked one to look out for in handicaps when second at Nottingham last time (1m 2f) and today’s additional quarter mile should suit.
My Fantasea 7/4
Refrain 7/4 NAP
Drop D’Or 9/4
At Windsor this evening I hope How Bizarre sets a strong gallop which should suit Brigand (7.10) who has the assistance of Ryan Moore for the first time. Do look out for a market move for Henry Candy’s Jupiter who steps up to a mile for the first time. He disappointed on his belated seasonal reappearance but that 6f trip looked on the sharp side.
At Ripon Restive Spirit (9.00) steps up to a mile having been done for toe over 7f on the July course last time. Timespan made a satisfactory debut at Windsor over 10f and she drops back to a mile this evening. The booking of Silvestre De Sousa would suggest Roger Charlton means business and it should be a fascinating duel between the pair.
Restive Spirit 1/2