Boynton out to land Godolphin hat-trick in Churchill Stakes
Boynton is out to give Godolphin a third straight win in the Listed Betway Churchill Stakes (2.45pm) at Lingfield on Saturday, in which he faces eight rivals including old adversary Victory Bond.
The winner of the mile-and-a-quarter contest receives an automatic place in the Easter Classic over course and distance on All-Weather Championships Finals day on Good Friday.
The William Haggas-trained four-year-old prevailed by half a length in his previous clash with Boynton at Chelmsford last month on what was Victory Bond's first run on an all-weather surface.
Boynton has since gone on to finish a close third in a Listed contest at Newmarket and should strip fitter for the rematch having missed the first part of the year through injury.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: "I was delighted with Boynton's latest appearance when the good to soft ground didn't suit him that well.
"He's coming back to a sounder surface and if he can reproduce his Newmarket run it should be good enough to put him bang there. He ran well on the Polytrack at Chelmsford, when he was a bit fresh and gassy, but he got into a decent rhythm last time.
"If he manages to win this race it gives us a few options, and we can hopefully then head to Dubai in the knowledge we've qualified him for All-Weather Finals day."
It would not be the Churchill Stakes without Battalion and the 2014 winner is back for a third crack under Dougie Costello.
The senior runner in the field at the age of seven, he has not been sighted since finished last of nine in the Easter Classic here in April.
Trainer Jamie Osborne said: "We decided to skip a summer campaign with Battalion as he'd got a bit stale and he enjoyed himself in a field with a view to coining back for the winter.
"It appears to have done him the world of good and he's already been away for a racecourse gallop. It all depends on what's going on in his head but if he puts it in there's no reason he can't be competitive."
Among the other leading candidates are Ayrad, who is making his all-weather debut, and Master The World, who was third in this a year ago.
Chantilly-based trainer Pia Brandt sent out Metropol to finish third two years ago and is represented by progressive three-year-old In The Lope.
Loaded to fire?
Spring Loaded heads a maximum 12-runner turnout in the Listed Betway Golden Rose Stakes (3.15), in which he puts his unbeaten record at the track on the line.
Paul D'Arcy's stable star is making a third attempt to qualify for All-Weather Finals day after being balloted out in 2016 and being injured earlier this year.
Spring Loaded has won twice over course and distance among eight all-weather wins, and enjoyed a productive autumn on turf, landing the Portland Handicap at Doncaster.
D'Arcy said: "It looks as if it may be a strongly-run race, which will suit Spring Loaded, and the return to six furlongs will help as he was run off his feet over five last time at Doncaster.
"He's fit and well and hopefully we can get him qualified for finals day. After this there are a few options, including a valuable sprint in Qatar in February."
Gifted Master could be a potent force in the all-weather sprint division this winter but must overcome stall 12 if he is to register a victory on his first start on Polytrack.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Dr Ali Ridha, said: "Gifted Master has a wide draw but has plenty of early toe, which may him help him overcome that. He's in good shape and has plenty of experience of Polytrack at home so that should not be a drawback."
Also stepping out on the all-weather for the first time is Magical Memory, trained by Charlie Hills, whose best turf form includes a victory in the Duke of York Stakes last year and a fine fourth in this year's Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest.
There is also an international angle provided by German trainer Dominik Moser, who is hoping to spring a surprise with Making Trouble, a Listed winner in 2015.
He said: "Making Trouble has worked well on sand. We got going with him late in the season but we've had a lot of rain here in the autumn and he didn't like the soft ground on his last two starts at Munich and Hanover. I hope he can run a good race."
Stand to deliver?
Stand Guard, who holds the record for all-weather wins with 28, contests the concluding 1m4f handicap (3.45) and should strip fitter for his reappearance at Southwell last month.
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