Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
A number of outstanding performances at Chester midweek, but if we saw a classic winner on the Roodeye I think it might be Aidan O’Brien’s Rostropovich who improved dramatically for the switch to a sound surface in the Dee Stakes on Thursday. The French Derby (10f) looks an obvious target for a colt who might not be as effective over the Derby distance of 12 furlongs.
A cracking mixed card at Haydock this afternoon and in the opening 3m Handicap Hurdle I am looking forward to seeing Debece (2.00) back on a sound surface. The selection returned from a 12-month break when finishing fourth in a hot handicap at Aintree on National Day last month from this mark and if he does not “bounce” after that big run, he must go close. One concern I hope he does not get embroiled in a battle for the lead with Monbeg Theatre near the foot of the weights.
Note there is a bit of rain forecast overnight and they have watered the jumps track, but there should be no excuses with underfoot conditions with the Irish mare Just Janice looking a big danger.
The Swinton Hurdle – a 2m Handicap – is possibly not the race it once was but it remains a personal favourite. Optimus Prime is interesting reverting to timber but my two against the field are Chesterfield – 7/1 – and Act Of Valour (3.10) with marginal preference for the Paul Nicholls-trained juvenile who has the assistance of Bryony Frost.
The selection , who is 6/1 , may have got to the front a shade too soon at Sandown last time but this easier track on better ground should suit and his jockey’s 3lb claim is a bonus given her continued excellence. I will be disappointed if he is not in the first four.
Back on the level and Breath Caught (4.55) looks to be going the right way and a 5lbs rise for his Newmarket success looks fair for this son of Bated Breath. His draw in draw six of nine could have been better but the long Haydock straight should suit Ralph Beckett’s progressive three-year-old.
Act of Valour 6/1
Breath Caught 7/4
Lingfield’s biggest day of their turf season with their classic trials and in the colts’ race, I hope Knight To Behold (2.30) can improve on his Newmarket maiden win over a mile on just his second start back in October. The colt is 6/1 and this son of See The Stars is 40/1 to land the Derby at Epsom next month.
I will be disappointed if Ballydoyle’s Kew Gardens can give 3lbs to his rivals although his recent comeback over nine furlongs suggested he was crying out for a step up in trip.
Ryan Moore rides Warsaw Road (5.20) for Luca Cumani and I liked the way he finished at Kempton on his reappearance having met trouble in running. The selection won half of his six starts on turf including over slightly shorter here back in July and hinted on his reappearance that he could improve again this term.
Knight To Behold 6/1
Warsaw Road 11/8
At Ascot, I hope to see the lightly raced Humble Hero (2.15) go close in the mile-and-a-half handicap which opens the card for William Haggis. The selection was a big disappointment on his last start as a three-year-old but I feel there is more to come this term and I hope to see jockey Danny Tudhope make plenty of use of him from stall one.
The Victoria Cup is a difficult puzzle to solve but I felt Silent Attack (4.00) was one to follow, after scoring at Lingfield (polytrack) and I hope he can follow up from stall 19 for Saeed Bin Suroor. The selection is 12/1 and can reward each way support (1/5th odds 5 places).
Humble Hero 6/1
At Nottingham, I thought Pretty Baby (3.50) looked a group horse in waiting when scoring at Redcar last time and she gets a confident vote in the listed Kilvington Stakes for Haggas with Paul Hanagan taking over in the plate.
Abel Tasman (4.25) is a horse I am convinced is capable of winning from his current mark and he has a good draw in stall five for Ed Walker with Pat Cosgrave a positive booking.
Jungle Room (5.35) has been raised 9lbs for winning at Wolverhampton last time but he looked well ahead of the handicapper on that occasion and he must be followed until beaten. That all-weather success was gained over an extended 7f but today’s additional furlong should be well within his compass.
Pretty Baby 11/8
Abel Tasman 4/1
Jungle Room 15/8