Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
A wonderful weekend of flat racing to look forward to on both sides of the Irish Sea but we begin our preview in South Yorkshire and the oldest classic in the world – the St Leger.
The unbeaten filly Lah Ti Dar (3.35) has won her three starts by an aggregate of just shy of 20 lengths including a 10L annihilation of her field in the listed Galtres Stakes at York last month. Frankie Dettori immediately nominated the Leger for her next start and the Italian has certainly put his reputation on the line.
We know she stays 12f and Frankie was adamant she has the stamina – we know she has the class – for the extra near three furlongs and she will receive 3lbs from the colts. At 7/4 she is a worthy favourite although I would have preferred to see her run against her own sex in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp on Sunday before a crack at the Arc next month.
I hope the drop back to 7f will not inconvenient Mustashry (2.25) who travelled like a class animal before getting outgunned by Lord Glitters – races in the G1 Woodbine Mile in Canada this evening – over 9f last time. One would hope that jockey Jim Crowley advised Sir Michael Stoute that his 5-y-old had the toe for this trip and it should be noted that he was supplemented for this contest earlier in the week. At 3/1 he would be a confident selection was it not for the lack of pace in the race – I wonder if Crowley will take the bull by the horns given his mount stays further?
The Champagne Stakes is the best juvenile race of the season and Too Darn Hot (3.00) is impossible to oppose such was the ease of his Sandown win in the Gp 3 Solario Stakes at the beginning of the month. Make no mistake this is a top-class renewal of this Gp 2 contest although Dark Vision will need to be top-class to give the selection and Phoenix Of Spain 3lbs. The selection is 1/2 and I feel it will be Phoenix Of Spain who follows the selection home.
Lah Ti Dar 7/4
Too Darn Hot 1/2
At Chester, Project Bluebook (2.05) travelled well when a good fourth over 2m here earlier in the month and has been dropped 2lbs by the handicapper. This slight drop in trip will suit John Quinn’s five-year-old who has an excellent draw in stall two. The selection is 11/2 and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t make the frame.
At Musselburgh, Artamon (5.15) has won his last two starts at today’s 1m 6f trip and I hope to see jockey Clifford Lee make it a proper test in the valuable Caledonian Cup. The selection’s only defeat in his last four starts has been here which is a slight concern, but that was over two miles and there must be every chance that Michael Bell’s progressive stayer gets a soft lead.
Artamon 85/40 (NAP)
At Lingfield on Saturday evening I hope to see King Of Burgundy (4.50) get out of the stalls better than he did at Salisbury when last seen on his handicap debut (12f) the best part of three months ago. He has been dropped 4lbs since that run and today’s additional couple of furlongs should suit. The booking of Kieran Shoemark – back among the winners’ midweek – is considered a positive.
King Of Burgundy 2/1
It is Irish Champions weekend across the Irish Sea and in the Irish Champion Stakes I am concerned with the draw in stall eight for Roaring Lion (6.35) who is my favourite horse in training. Tactics may play a part in the race and at 5/6 I wonder if Aidan O’Brien’s will have a trick up his sleeve with his Ballydoyle quartet. Roaring Lion is the best horse in the race, but I won’t be playing given the possible scenarios.
Roaring Lion 8/11
On Sunday I am sweet on the chances of Eziyra (2.35) who was beaten less than four lengths by the top-class Sea Of Class in the Gp 1 Yorkshire Oaks when last seen. The drop back to 10f is unlikely to be a concern although I hope Declan McDonagh is not too far out of his ground from stall one although this stiff track will suit.
The Gp1 National Stakes is another top-class two-year-old event and preference for Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten Quorto (4.15) over Coolmore’s Anthony Van Dyck is marginal.