This should be when the Jumps game really kicks into gear but the Friday card of the November Meeting at Cheltenham was lost to the weather sadly, parts of the course submerged in water! They will race Saturday with the going officially soft in heavy in places. As any regular visitors to the site will know I took the 11-2 earlier this week about Slate House in a typically competitive renewal of the 2m4f G.3 BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday due off at 2.25. Very impressive winning over track and trip last month on heavy ground if the second wind operation has done the job, and it appears it has, he could be tackling bigger prizes as the season progresses.
I will be watching the rest of the races at Cheltenham rather than punting in them as with the heavy ground I think we might see some strange results especially in the Juvenile and Novice heats. I will also have one eye on Ireland as Faugheen has been declared to make his debut over fences in the 2m4f beginners' chase at Punchestown.
I am though very interested in three races on the Polytrack at Lingfield and will be punting there. After a ridiculous break of 7-days with no racing, and the recent bout of abandonments only backs-up the argument, the All-Weather season finally kicks back into life on Saturday at Lingfield Park with three Listed races.
The first of them is the 1m2f Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Gillies Fillies' Stakes at 2.10 which has been rearranged from the washed-out meeting at Doncaster last weekend. I had backed Magic Lily ante-post at 5-1 for the Doncaster race and the Charlie Appleby trained Godolphin owned chestnut filly lines-up in this rearranged running. By Derby winner New Approach out of Oaks and German Oaks winner Dancing Rain you can be sure Godolphin want to get some black type with this one and you can see why they kept her in training despite obviously having some problems. She was second in a Listed heat at Saint-Cloud last month having been off the track for 721 days. This is only her fourth start, won on debut before finishing third behind Laurens and September in the G.1 Fillies Mile of 2017 and surely there is more to come from her. Jason Watson rides with William Buick having some time off and James Doyle down in Australia. The draw could have been kinder but I think this filly will be winning Group races eventually I am on again this weekend this time at 7-2.
It’s the 1m2f Listed Betway Churchill Stakes at 2.45 which is a fast track qualifier for AWC Finals day next year. Cambridgeshire winner Lord North has headed the market all week, and he is top-rated, but the track and surface are unknowns. All his best form is on straight courses, Newmarket and Ascot plus one try on synthetics on the Tapeta at Newcastle. The one time he went round a bend at Sandown he finished last. He is rated 10lb superior of any of the opposition and could trot-up but I am not sure this sharp turning course will suit him and will take him on at the prices. Jockey Frankie Dettori believes he is still improving but did say “Lingfield can be quite tricky, but he has got enough quality to win this type of race. He is rated 112 and is on the way up. He seems in a good place so we will hope for the best.” Stable Mate Crossed Baton was competing in Group 2’s last year having won the Listed Blue Ribband at Epsom. He didn’t go well on his seasonal debut back in April this year and subsequently was off for a visit to the vet for the dreaded snip. When he returned to the track, slightly lighter, he ran second to Setting Sail in a conditions event this August. Two-time Golden Whip winner Pierre-Charles Boudot makes the trip across the Channel to ride. If the gelding can rediscover his form of last year, with cheekpieces applied for the first time, the Khald Abdullah owned 4yo might be the one to pick up the pieces if the odds-on jolly doesn’t like the turns. I have the 8-1 with Coral.
It’s another fast track qualifier at 3.15 in the shape of the Listed 6f Betway Golden Rose Stakes. I wanted to back Red Impression for this but she does not run sadly. 2017 winner, fifth last year, Gifted Master is back for another go and has to be on any shortlist but I fancy one of the younger brigade. Leodis Dream steps up to six furlongs for the first time and the three-year-old gelding is the one in the field on an upward curve with potentially more to come. Breaking from stall six he should be able to get a decent pitch and few people ride Lingfield better than Adam Kirby so he has the right man in the saddle. I thought the 9-1 Paddy Power went at first on Thursday was huge and I grabbed a bit of that with both hands.