Stotsfold's speed to whet appetite for the Flat
Saturday 20 March 2010
Only the most heroic punting appetite will remain unsatisfied after the past four days. Happily, however, the racing calendar tends to introduce a sorbet at just the right stage of the banquet. So while the Festival is over, Flat racing resumes on turf next weekend – not to mention the richest meeting in history, in Dubai – and a fortnight later many Cheltenham stars will reconvene at Aintree. And both themes are usefully anticipated by today's televised action, which features a Grand National trial and the climax of the all-weather Flat season.
Henry Cecil has one of the Dubai World Cup favourites in Twice Over, but first seeks some loose change in the Sportingbet Supports Heros Winter Derby at Lingfield. Having been campaigned as a stayer, Tranquil Tiger has proved productive dropped to shorter distances and has taken especially well to this surface, but the class act in this field is Stotsfold (3.35). Better than ever last year, he produced a career best when third in the Arlington Million behind Gio Ponti, subsequently runner-up to Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Stotsfold's style of racing is ideally tailored to this track and his acceleration can place the progress of Dalradian in due context.
Elna Bright (2.25) has been thriving all winter and a narrow defeat off too steady a pace last time suggests he remains competitively treated for his reunion with Kieren Fallon. Jira (3.00) is just the type of Clive Brittain filly with which tends to build surprisingly on foundations laid as a juvenile.
The dry spell means that the John Smith's Midlands National makes fairly anomalous demands of a field assembled with a slog through the mud in mind. Just about the only runner demonstrably comfortable on top of the ground is Iris De Balme (3.15 Uttoxeter) and he could prove value after running poorly last time. He had previously shaped nicely on his comeback, and his swift reappearance implies that no insoluble problem emerged after his run at Doncaster.
Turf account: Chris McGrath
Back In Business (5.25 Ffos Las)
Looks appropriately named, having shaped nicely in a couple of spins over hurdles after a long absence and now well handicapped for his return to fences.
Jaconet (4.45 Lingfield)
Has improved dramatically since her plating days, being especially lethal on this surface, and returned from a break with another blistering win over course and distance last month.
One to Watch
Rite Of Passage (D K Weld) went so strongly before reaching the hill at Cheltenham on Wednesday that he may yet prove top-class dropped back to two miles.
Where the Money's Going
Crowded House is 16-1 from 20-1 with Ladbrokes for the Dubai World Cup.
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