London – Forest Ranger can claim back-to-back renewals on Thursday of the bet365 Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket.
This Richard Fahey-trained five-year-old has been a fine servant to his connections and enjoyed his best season to date last term after being gelded during the winter.
He proved when landing this Group 3 prize a year ago that he goes well fresh, and a follow-up victory in the Huxley Stakes at Chester less than a month later confirmed he was better than ever.
A step up to the highest level in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown proved a bridge too far, and an ambitious trip to Korea failed to pay off, but he rounded off his campaign with another fine effort over this course and distance when only narrowly beaten by Euginio in the Darley Stakes.
Forest Ranger disappointed on his return to action in Dubai last month, but is fancied to bounce back on a track where he clearly excels and over what appears to be his optimum trip of 1800m.
Strong Power is expected to open his account at the second attempt in the Montaz Restaurant British EBF Novice Stakes.
The fact fledgling trainer George Scott gave this youngster his debut in the Brocklesby at Doncaster suggested he had been showing plenty at home, and he was prominent in the market.
He justified that faith with a fine effort to finish second to favourite Show Me Show Me, and that initial experience should stand him in good stead heading into his second outing.
If Strong Power improves even a smidgen, he should prove very hard to beat.
Almashriq gets the nod in the British EBF bet365 Conditions Stakes. This War Front colt cost an eye-watering 1.2 million US dollars as a yearling, and began repaying back that hefty fee at the first time of asking.
He did not make his juvenile debut until December, but was worth the wait as he justified odds-on favouritism in some style at Newcastle.
That performance was more about style than substance, but the fact he holds entries in the 2000 Guineas and the Dante suggests John Gosden has high expectations.
He will need to keep his unbeaten record intact if he is to be considered a legitimate contender for either of those high-profile races.
At Ripon, Metatron is eye-catching on his switch to turf and into a handicap for the first time.
Tom Dascombe’s three-year-old was still a colt when he made an impressive winning debut at Wolverhampton in October.
He was unable to follow up on his return to the same track a month later and then, after a gelding operation, this son of Dark Angel came up short again in fourth when backed into favouritism at Lingfield.
The form of that race was let down by runner-up Fields Of Athenry, who failed to reach market expectations at Windsor this week. Nonetheless, on the basis of his opening win, Metatron does not appear unfairly treated in the Ripon ‘Cock O’ The North’ Handicap.
Desirable Court can edge Dan Skelton closer to the double century with victory on an all-mares’ card at Cheltenham.
This six-year-old has won three of her four starts over fences – admittedly one being a walkover – and is two from two since undergoing wind surgery.
She was all out to win a Listed prize at Leicester on her latest outing, but that was over an inadequate 3200m and came less than a fortnight after scoring at the same track.
Desirable Court has been given a break for the EBF/Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase Series Final, and stepping back up in trip on a stiff track should see her at her best.- Press Association
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