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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Arc clue as Enable lead horse First Eleven bids for Cumberland Lodge success

First Eleven (left): unlucky at Royal Ascot and bids to make amends
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2.25 Ascot
Stella Artois Cumberland Lodge Stakes | Group 3 | 1m4f | 3yo+| ITV4/RUK

Enable's lead horse First Eleven could give a late pointer to the chances of his more illustrious stablemate in France on Sunday when he steps back into Group company.

The three-year-old could not be better bred for the job being a Frankel half-brother to Kingman, but he showed more stamina than that pair when running out a decisive winner of a handicap over course and distance last time.

Robert Havlin, who did the steering that day, is back on board First Eleven, who limbered up for this in impressive fashion at a John Gosden media morning in Newmarket on Friday. 

Before his latest two-length defeat of Ghostwatch, First Eleven had enjoyed a decent summer with a maiden win at Newbury backed up by an unlucky in-running third in the King George V Handicap at the royal meeting.

Khalid Abdullah's colt then flopped in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket but returned from a break to score nicely in a handicap at this track on his latest start.

Gosden said: "This looks a natural step judging by the way he won at Ascot. We know he likes the track and trip and he won't mind if they get some rain." 

Communique steps up

Mark Johnston provides the main danger to the Gosden runner in the shape of Communique, who is working to a typical Kingsley House timetable in resurfacing just eight days after landing the Listed Godolphin Stakes at Newmarket.

The three-year-old steps up in class after his neck defeat of Barsanti on the Rowley Mile and heads south on a hat-trick having previously won a handicap at Newbury.

Communique: convincing winner at Goodwood in August

The son of Casamento showed he liked small fields at Newmarket and could appreciate bossing it from the front against just four opponents this time around.

Johnston said: "Ryan Moore got off Communique at Newmarket and said he was a Group horse so now is his chance for him to prove it. He has 3lb to find on the ratings but must have every chance." 

Laraaib in better health

Owen Burrows is hoping his recent revival in fortunes extends to Laraaib, who would have a decent shout if returning to the form of his second to Poet's Word in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown in May.

Since then the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt has turned in two below-par efforts, including when beating just one home in a Group 2 at Newmarket in July, but the yard's horses were out of sorts at the time.

The son of Pivotal, who would appreciate any rain, is back in good form after a break of more than two months according to his trainer.

"It was good to soft ground when he was second to Poet's Word and if he comes back to that kind of form he would have a great chance," said Burrows.

"My horses were under the weather when he ran poorly last time so that can be ignored. He should run a nice race." 

Grey enough for Britain?

Laraaib is the only one of the five declared horses not coming into the race off the back of a victory, with the Roger Charlton-trained Blakeney Point landing a Listed race at Chester last month, but while the John Ryan-trained Grey Britain was also a winner last time, that came in a handicap at the Guineas meeting at Newmarket way back in May.

He is not certain to return on Saturday, however, with his trainer saying:  "Fingers crossed that this forecast rain arrives in time as if it doesn't he won't run. I put him in the race only when they reopened it.

"If he does run he should go nicely as he's back from a break and is fresh and well."


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First Eleven is stepping up to Group level for the first time and this looks a natural progression judging by the way he won at Ascot
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