Friday 15 December 2017

Take a 'Flyer' on Byron to make amends

Williams' stayer earns nap vote after hitting traffic trouble at Chester

Growl (yellow cap), pictured here winning at Ascot, is fancied to score again in the John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock today. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Growl (yellow cap), pictured here winning at Ascot, is fancied to score again in the John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock today. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Johnny Ward

With Tony Martin's Laganore staying at home for what seems a more suitable race at the Curragh tomorrow, Irish hopes in today's Betway Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock rest with Island Remede.

Island Remede hails from an utterly traditional jumps barn, that of Henry de Bromhead. However, the Co Waterford handler has dabbled increasingly in Flat runners in recent years and this one finished second to subsequent American Grade One winner Zhukova in the Noblesse Stakes at Cork in April.

"She seems in good form and had a good run the last day, so we're hoping for a good run," said De Bromhead. "She has form on soft ground."

De Bromhead pursues a realistic goal of black type but winning looks pretty improbable. However, Maleficent Queen, which will have no issue with an ease, is a more viable alternative for Keith Dalgleish.

The daughter of Mount Nelson is frustratingly keen much of the time. Perhaps the difference here will be the strong handling of Dubliner Robert Winston, who rides for the first time. A searching gallop will suit the five-year-old, available at what appeals as a long price of 8/1.

Arguably the one to beat is Adjman Princess, on a hat-trick bid and notably second to the high-class Even Song on easy Royal Ascot terrain last term.

The sprint handicap opens proceedings for TV viewers at Haydock. Full Intention seems to be recapturing his juvenile form after a gelding operation but preference is for the progressive Fantasy Keeper.

Michael Appleby's Mayson-bred is just 6lb higher for a smooth win at Nottingham and it will hardly prevent a follow-up, with Ryan Moore in the plate.

At his best Eltezam would win this but his attitude has become questionable. The consistent Northgate Lad, which was thereabouts in a hot contest at York on latest, is preferred for Brian Ellison.

Haydock's TV fare concludes with the John Of Gaunt Stakes and Growl is solid here. A hardy and improving sort, he seemed in need of the spin at York last month, is ground-versatile and representing a Richard Fahey yard which can end a slightly frustrating run of beaten favourites in recent days.

Newmarket's fare is of a decent calibre. The Animal Health Trust Celebrating 75 Years Handicap can tell us whether or not Omran, by the Aussie speedster Choisir, can build on a smooth Newcastle all-weather win. So easy was that success, he looks capable of overcoming a new rating of 98, with Frankie Dettori in the plate.

Conditions are expected to be faster at Newmarket than at Haydock, rendering the 14-furlong John Sunley Memorial Handicap a little less of a slog.

It is difficult to overstate the trouble Byron Flyer (Nap) met in running at Chester last time under Franny Norton, who would surely love to ride the race once more.

He finished the contest like a cyclist who was approaching the finishing line but whose chain had come loose. Harry Bentley now takes the steer for Ian Williams and, presuming the four each-way places remain, he is of considerable interest.

Trainer Williams illustrated the occasional usefulness of social media this week when tweeting a photo of a friend's horse being delivered from Ireland. One half of the trailer contained the horse, the other what appeared to be a Charolais bull which looked as bemused as the rest of us.

"I've bought worse," wrote owner Simon Cox underneath the photo of the pair. As someone who witnessed Deeds Not Words win his last two since moving to England - having run 21 times without victory when part-owned by yours truly last year - I can surely relate.

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