MONSIEUR LECOQ may be 2lb out of the handicap but remains well treated at the bottom of the weights in the Matchbook Imperial Cup at Sandown. He drew nine lengths clear of Our Merlin over course and distance in January on soft going and the heavens have opened in time for this improving five-year-old.
Call Me Lord, beaten a neck by Mr Antolini in this tough contest 12 months ago, should again go well, despite conceding lumps of weight. First Flow dips into handicap company and Kim Bailey’s gelding was a high-class novice hurdler, looking a resolute galloper on testing ground.
All eyes will be focussed on Cheltenham next week but the Lincoln Derby Trial at Wolverhampton serves a timely reminder that the turf Flat season is just around the corner. VICTORY BOND has a great record when returning from a break and he can provide 7lb apprentice Cieren Fallon with the biggest scalp of his fledgling career.
William Haggas gives him the leg-up on his talented gelding, off the track since running fourth to Flaming Spear at Kempton in November. Victory Bond beat Pactolus, one of today’s main rivals, by more than four lengths last January and is actually better off at the weights.
ISLAND OF LIFE has decent prospects of supplying Haggas with another Listed success in the Lady Wulfruna Stakes. A low draw can prove a fairly significant advantage over this tuning 7f trip, so stall three is potentially ideal.
Island Of Life edged out Castle Hill Cassie over course and distance in early January and the 5lb fillies’ allowance she receives from all her rivals tips the scales. Oh This Is Us likes to come fast and late, so a brisk tempo would suit the favourite. The same remark applies to recent wide-margin course winner Documenting.
SHAMSHON is a course and distance scorer and got going just too late to catch Boom The Groom dropping to 5f last time. Stuart Williams has had him in cracking form this winter and Shamshon will appreciate today’s extra furlong. Merhoob had more than two lengths in hand of El Hombre here 12 days ago and despite a 6lb rise should be to the fore in this competitive Class 2 handicap.
SANAADH, representing the formidable Michael Wigham and Franny Norton all-weather combination, is a solid each-way recommendation at Kempton. The six-year-old was noted making stealthy late progress when fourth to fancied Keyser Soze at Newcastle last month.