RIPON'S Cock O’ The North Handicap over a mile is one of the track’s early-season marquee races and EMPEROR SPIRIT (4.35) will take a deal of beating.
John Gosden’s colt polished off a Wolverhampton novice stakes in early December in the manner of an improving three-year-old.
The Silver Bowl Handicap over an extended 1m 2f trip is always worth watching and dual course and distance scorer FISHABLE (4.00) catches the eye on seasonal debut for Tim Easterby. Track craft is a big plus on Ripon's undulations.
Zabeel Champion was sent off favourite at Chelmsford City 13 days ago but couldn’t contain United Front. He chased home Junkanoo at Goodwood last summer and should go well, although I’m not sure rattling fast ground would suit. Mark Johnston's horses continue to run well. Benadalid runs most of his best races at Ripon and had re-opposing Mascat one spot behind when runner-up to in-form Highwaygrey at Pontefract in September.
At Newmarket, the feature bet365 Craven Stakes has attracted a field of ten runners, with Godolphin’s MASTER OF THE SEAS (3.35) likely to head the market. The dual Newmarket winner ran a creditable fourth to Thunder Moon in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh in September and arrives fit from an outing at Meydan in February when chasing home Naval Crown. A hood is fitted for the first time. Charlie Appleby has an able ‘second string’ in La Barrosa, winner of the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes here in September. Aidan O’Brien fields previous winners Khartoum and Sandhurst.