Charlie Appleby is lording it at the top of the All-weather Trainers Championship and the Godolphin man can stretch his lead by landing a double with PRETEND and FOUR SEASONS at Lingfield’s attractive weekend card on Saturday.
Pretend has always struck me as a potential sprinting star and his three wins from his last four starts confirm the impression.
Twice a course and distance winner, in December he had a blip at Chelmsford, where the surface and its kickback may have inconvenienced him.
Back at Wolverhampton it was business as usual because he readily disposed of a good field, coasting home a length and a quarter ahead of Boomerang Bob.
This is obviously a move into Listed Race company, but he is in such good nick that I take him to beat Dungannon and Alben Star.
Stable companion Four Seasons could have initiated the Appleby double in the 32Red Spring Cup.
The Dubawi colt won twice as a juvenile and continued his progress on his first run of 2015. That was over this course and distance and he had little difficulty in beating Anonymous John by a length and three quarters.
As is the case with Pretend, this is a step up in class, but he has the ability to do it at the expense of Star Asset, Fanciful Angel, Angelic Cloud and the hat-trick-seeking Charlie Bear.
The Coral.co.uk Winter Derby presents a tricky problem as cases can be made out for a large number of the contenders including Cloudscape, Educate, Grandeur, Side Glance and Complicit.
That said, I reckon we will get the best value for money by siding with William Haggas’ consistent five-year-old BATTALION.
He won a fast-track qualifier for Good Friday on this course last year and has been kept well on the move since then.
This is tougher, but he has the battling qualities required to win again.
At one stage, Julia Feilden had harboured hopes of letting her rapid improver SABRE ROCK take his chance in the winter classic.
Even though he was making it five wins in a row over this course and distance on the Surrey track, it was decided to continue down the handicap route.
The ease with which he disposed of the older King’s Bayonet by half a length last time out suggests there is more in his locker and he should not be troubled by the step up to a mile and a half in the Coral Mobile “Just Three Clicks To Bet” Handicap.
Ed Vaughan has a potential superstar in PRIMROSE VALLEY, who can earn herself a ticket to the Good Friday Lingfield bonanza by winning the Unibet Fast Track Qualifier for the sprint at Wolverhampton’s Saturday evening meeting
This daughter of Pastoral Pursuits has won her last three races in immaculate fashion, most recently coming through on a tight rein to beat the useful Merdon Castle by a length and a half.
On the same card, do not miss James Eustace’s Sandy Cove in the Download The Coral App Handicap.
Twice winner for the Park Lodge trainer last year, he has added a further two successes already this year.
Firstly, he scored at Kempton in January and more recently beat Estibdaad by a length on the same course.
His work indicates he is ahead of the ball game.
Round your Saturday off on a high note with Noel Quinlan’s bubbling handicapper BOBOLI GARDENS, who is expected to make it three wins from his last four starts in the Ladbroke Handicap.
Over the jumps at Sandown on Saturday Lucy Wadham can gain some consolation for some of her top horses missing the cut for their Cheltenham races.
First and foremost, go with the rapidly-improving CANUSPOTIT in the Kempton Park 888Sport.com Silver Bowl.
Stable companion SHANROE SANTOS, already a three-times winner, should be backed to complete a Wadham double in the 888Sport.com Novices Hurdle on his way to one of the big events at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
At a more mundane level this evening at Chelmsford, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s 2.5 million guineas yearling HYDROGEN can repay his trainer and connections patience with a first return on that outlay in the Trimingham Maiden Stakes.
The Galileo colt showed promise when sixth to Thunderstruck in his one run at Newmarket last May.
Injury then sidelined him, but the plan is to win here and then work his way up through handicaps to Pattern Race company later in the year.
Staying with Chelmsford, David Simcock’s BARYE looks the answer to the Mundesley Handicap and former jockey Chris Dwyer should strike with SAVED MY BACON, who is the pick of the weights for the Happisburgh Fillies Handicap.
John Ferguson will be looking to his smart jumper DEVILMENT to make his mark in the JCB Triumph Hurdle tomorrow.
Already a winner at Wetherby and Doncaster, he looked the part when putting paid to Rockerfeller in at Doncaster race last month.
Ferguson has been getting plenty of work into him on the Back Of The Flat gallop and ne represents a sound each-way wager.
n Our top Journal racing tipster PIN MONEY managed to keep the wolf from the door last week with his 4-1 winner Mindurownbusiness.