Monday 18 December 2017

Elusive Kate to blow out Lantern flame

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Duntle and Come To Heel form an ambitious two-pronged David Wachman sortie on Newmarket's Group Ones this afternoon.

In the Sun Chariot Stakes, Duntle has a fourth stab at securing what would be a deserved top-level coup. Having been controversially demoted after being first past the post in the Matron Stakes last year, she has continued to perform to a high level.

However, this year's edition of the Leopardstown race may have represented her best hope of achieving a Group One triumph during the current campaign.

For whatever reason, she missed that engagement, and the suspicion is that both she and Kevin Prendergast's eventual Matron heroine La Collina will come up a fraction short today.


Charlie Hills' Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Just The Judge has had her limitations exposed in the meantime, including when well held by Sky Lantern in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot.

Sky Lantern is also on duty again, while Michael Stoute's Integral is an improving three-year-old, though it's doubtful she will be quite good enough.

Inevitably, this seems destined to turn on the clash between Sky Lantern and Elusive Kate. When the pair met in the Falmouth on the July course, the John Gosden-trained Elusive Kate veered badly left in the closing stages en route to prevailing by a neck.

It is something she has often done, but Richard Hughes was caught unawares on the wrong side of Richard Hannon's filly, and there were grounds for believing that Sky Lantern might get the race in the inquiry.

In the end, she didn't, and the more you look at the replay, the more you understand why the stewards didn't alter the placings.

Elusive Kate was always doing enough, and, while you could argue that she still deserved to lose the race, she would simply have won by further if she had run straight.

As such, it's hard to fathom why Sky Lantern precedes her in today's betting, as Elusive Kate has since confirmed her quality by slamming Duntle in the Prix Rothschild.

On her return to Deauville, she was no match for Moonlight Cloud, Olympic Glory, Intello, Declaration Of War and Dawn Approach in the Marois. She meets no such formidable rival now, so the 2012 runner-up is value at 11/4 under William Buick.

Come To Heel has a live chance in the Cheveley Park for Wachman and Wayne Lordan, but it is a tricky contest with Kioyshi and Vorda setting a tall standard.

Needless to say, the 35-runner Cambridgeshire is even more of a minefield. If events of recent weeks are anything to go by, the safest option might be to choose something ridden by a day-tripping Irish rider.

Joseph O'Brien, Johnny Murtagh, Pat Smullen and Seamie Heffernan are all on duty, but preference is for Queensberry Rules.

William Haggas' progressive three-year-old was third to Roca Tomu in the Britannia at Ascot.

Having only made his debut in April, that was the Teofilo colt's fourth start, and it's interesting that last year's Cambridgeshire winner, Bronze Angel, was a similarly unexposed three-year-old that filled the same spot in the same Ascot race.

Since then, Queensbury Rules got lost out in the middle of the track on his return to Ascot, before running nicely to be beaten just a couple of lengths in a decent York handicap last month.

He got a bit hot and raced keenly that day, but still kept on well.

Queensberry Rules will need to be more professional if he is to collect today, but, at odds of 14/1, it is worth speculating that he will be under the excellent Ryan Moore.

Over jumps at Market Rasen, Charlie Longsdon's Grandads Horse appeals in the Listed chase. Successful off 133 over flights, Noel Fehily's mount has taken well to fences, so there is a decent chance that he can exploit a first-time mark of 137 here.

Best Bet: Elusive Kate

Irish Independent

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