Warrior can win Newmarket battle
Trained by Roger Teal, the son of Karakontie sprang something of a surprise at Salisbury with victory at his first attempt.
Sent off a 16-1 chance, he was pushed into an early lead by a confident Jason Watson – and they were never headed.
The race could barely have worked out any better either – because the runner-up, Ralph Beckett’s Max Vega, has subsequently won twice, including a Group Three by three lengths.
Kenzai Warrior is back down to seven furlongs for the Group Three feature at Headquarters, but with cut in the ground and an uphill finish, it will still take some getting.
Beckett switched tack with the exciting Kinross, who was supposed to run in this race when it was first scheduled last weekend, and Kenzai Warrior therefore faces an easier task.
Heart Reef- trained by the aforementioned Beckett – appears full of potential in the following British Stallion Studs EBF Montrose Fillies’ Stakes.
She moves up to this Listed class after her debut victory in a Haydock novice in early September.
Heart Reef was made joint favourite that day, over this same mile trip, and she not only won convincingly but produced a performance which suggested she still has a little to learn and therefore should progress.
She will need to have done so in the intervening eight weeks, of course, but available racecourse evidence has indicated already she will not be out of place here.
The Weatherbys TBA James Seymour Stakes provides further Listed action, in which Cambridgeshire hero Lord North can mark his return to this course with another victory.
Over jumps, La Bague Au Roi has much in her favour for a winning return in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Warren Greatrex’s powerful mare was a dual Grade One-winning novice last season, and her trainer has hand-picked this first major feature race of the nascent season.
La Bague Au Roi’s sound jumping and uncomplicated running style mean Wetherby will surely prove made to measure.
Greatrex’s stable star is very adaptable – but her race record demonstrates that three miles on a flat, left-handed track is perfect.
She recorded back-to-back Newbury victories at shorter distances before Christmas last year, before moving up in both trip and to Grade One level to dispatch subsequent Cheltenham Festival one-two Topofthegame and Santini at Kempton.
Another top-level win followed at Leopardstown, before she appeared to be slightly tapped for speed by Kalashnikov at Aintree.
That exemplary novice campaign nonetheless strongly suggests she can improve past more experienced rivals, and it is easy to envisage her racing prominently en route to another victory.
Earlier on the card in the bet365 Handicap Chase, West To The Bridge should build on his promising comeback at Carlisle.
Dan Skelton’s six-year-old stayed on encouragingly over a bare two miles in a very decent race on his chasing debut, and can advertise that form here.
Ascot stages its first jumps card of the new season, and Champagne Platinum’s chasing debut will be an early highlight.
Nicky Henderson’s grey completed a career hat-trick with authoritative novice-hurdle wins last season, to add to his Irish point-to-point success, before having to miss the Cheltenham Festival with a last-minute setback.
His subsequent Grade One defeat at the Punchestown Festival, after a four-month absence, was therefore only a minor disappointment – and the five-year-old is likely to take his record to four out of five in the Ascot Underwriting Chase.
The Grade Three Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase is a valuable early-season prize, and Larry fits the bill this time.
Gary Moore’s six-year-old creeps in on a cheeky mark at a course which often suits runners from his canny yard.
At Ayr, the suspicion is that Testify may also have a rating he can soon put behind him.
After an awkward season last time round for both horse and stable, Donald McCain’s gelding can help to get the ball rolling again for a much-improved campaign in the John Crabbie Whisky Handicap Chase.
Down Royal stages the Grade One Ladbrokes Champion Chase – and, like La Bague Au Roi, Delta Work can demonstrate the high value of last season’s novice form.
The six-year-old appeared to take his powerful yard a little by surprise when he won at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival – but that was decidedly not the case by the time he finished third on his return as a top stayer last March.
He is highly likely to beat the more established chasers on his return, and shoot up the markets for next year’s Gold Cup.
ASCOT: 12.25 Flinck, 1. 00 Capac, 1. 35 Champagne Platinum, 2. 10 The Last Day, 2. 45 Adjali, 3. 20 Larry, 3. 55 Benevolentdictator.
AYR: 12.35 Amelia’s Dance, 1. 10 Exit To Where, 1. 40 Testify, 2. 15 Planet Nine, 2. 50 The Last Day, 3. 25 Elvis Mail, 4. 00 Style Nelson.
CHELMSFORD: 4.30 Falacho, 5. 00 Desert Peace, 5. 30 Persia, 6. 00 Max Guevara, 6. 30 First In Line, 7. 00 Lalania, 7. 30 Voice Of A Leader, 8. 00 Quick Monet.
DOWN ROYAL: 12.40 Zarkareva, 1. 15 Andy Dufresne, 1. 50 Janidil, 2. 25 Delta Work, 2. 55 Minella Fair, 3. 30 Frankly All Talk, 4. 05 Easywork.
NEWMARKET: 11.45 Exhibit, 12. 20 Transcript, 12. 55 Global Storm, 1. 30 Critical Time, 2. 05 KENZAI WARRIOR (NAP), 2. 40 Heart Reef, 3. 15 Lord North, 3. 45 Main Edition, 4. 15 Global Hope.
WETHERBY: 12.50 Cougar’s Gold, 1. 20 West To The Bridge, 1. 55 Zambella, 2. 30 Thebannerkingrebel, 3. 05 The Worlds End, 3. 40 La Bague Au Roi, 4. 10 Mon Palois.
DOUBLE: Kenzai Warrior and Lord North.
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