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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Austrian School bids for overdue change of fortune in Noel Murless Stakes

Austrian School (right) was narrowly beaten by Just In Time at Doncaster
1 of 1

3.35 Ascot
Londonmetric Noel Murless Stakes (Listed) | 1m6f | RUK

Run in honour of the nine-time champion Flat trainer, this race was won by 2017 Gold Cup hero Big Orange four years ago and his half-sister India is one of seven runners in what looks a strong renewal.

Austrian School tries again

Many will feel Austrian School, runner-up to Raymond Tusk in a Listed event at Hamilton in July, deserves a change of fortune.

That second was one of five occasions in his last six starts that Mark Johnston’s colt has picked up the silver medal and during this time, his handicap mark has continued to rise.

Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “Austrian School has enjoyed a great season, but sadly he’s gone up 17lb since his last victory without winning again. He's finished second time and time again, always running very well in defeat.

“It looks a strong enough renewal of the race, but he is top-rated on Timeform and should be bang there. He certainly deserves to get his head in front again.”

Mekong showing improvement

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Mekong has thrived since stepping up in trip in August, winning two of his three starts, and there was lots to like about the way he powered clear of Natural History under Ryan Moore at Haydock last time.

Even though some of his rivals clearly failed to act in the bottomless conditions, his seven-length victory represented another step forward in terms of form.

He had previously finished fourth, beaten a length and three-quarters, behind Ghostwatch, who is also in the Noel Murless line-up, on good to firm ground at York and is clearly versatile in terms of going conditions.

What they say

John Gosden, trainer of Sevenna Star and Enbihaar
Sevenna Star has a penalty to shoulder, but has always shaped as if this trip would suit him. A drop of rain would help his chances. It may be a bold move to take Enbihaar straight out of winning her maiden on the all-weather, but we feel she deserves a crack at black type rather than going the handicapping route. She shapes as if she will appreciate this trip although she is short on experience.

Michael Bell, trainer of India
It’s a big step up in class but, given she’s a half-sister to Big Orange, we’re chasing some black type. Her big brother won this race four years ago. She’s on an upward curve.

Ralph Beckett, trainer of Thimbleweed
She’s in good shape. We’re stepping up two furlongs which I didn’t envisage doing this soon, but it’s the right race to be doing it in.

What A Welcome bids for sixth win of year

What A Welcome, a revelation this season with five wins from six starts, steps up to two miles for the first time in Ascot’s Canaccord Genuity Gordon Carter Handicap (4.10) as trainer Patrick Chamings plots a route to beat the handicapper once again.

What A Welcome: prolific winner returns to Ascot
Astute and careful placing has proved one of the major factors in What A Welcome's success story and the gelding certainly gives the impression he will enjoy this longer trip, having finished strongly to beat You're Hired in a 1m4f handicap at the course last month.

“It’s a big ask,” Chamings said. “He won his first handicap off 63 and is now rated 95. He’s been a star for us. He’s a wonderful horse and what every trainer hopes to have.

“We’re going up in trip and you never know. We’ve tried to find races we think he can win and hopefully this is another.

The trainer added: “The plan is to keep him in training next year as a five-year-old.”

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He's finished second time and time again, always running very well in defeat
E.W. Terms
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