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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Five things to focus on from the meetings in Britain

Blakeney Point: bidding for his second win in a row at Leicester after beating Danehill Kodiac at Newbury last month
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Blakeney Point bids to follow up last month's Newbury win in the £25,000 Squirrel Handicap at Leicester (3.55), where his jockey Kieran Shoemark takes five rides in his bid to close the gap on Stobart Apprentice Jockeys' Championship leader David Egan.

The Newbury win was the four-year-old's first since he was dropped to a mile and a half and a mile and six furlongs after being a beaten favourite in the Chester Cup in May, and the form was given a huge boost when runner-up Danehill Kodiac landed last Saturday's Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot.

The weights are headed by Soldier In Action, who got up in the last strides to collar Blakeney Point over a mile and six furlongs at Goodwood in August.

Andrew Balding saddles bottomweight Night Of Glory, the only three-year-old in the field who is another live chance.

He said: "Night Of Glory ran well when second at Haydock last time and seemed to handle the soft ground. He's woken up at home now, and so we've taken off the cheekpieces. He should be competitive."

Leicester offers attractive prize

Leicester also stages the £25,000 TBA Small Breeders Conditions Stakes (2.55), which offers prize-money down to sixth and is restricted to juveniles sired by a British-based stallion whose advertised covering fee in 2014 was £10,000 or less.

Statuario, who ran respectably when down the field in a Group 3 last time, and Indomeneo, offer winning form and carry penalties of just 3lb.

Cuban Heel and Face Like Thunder are the only runners eligible for the Plus 10 bonus, which would add a significant boost to what is already an attractive first prize.

Chai Chai looks for second win

Brighton's penultimate meeting of the year is a seven-race card that attracted a healthy 80 declarations at the 48-hour stage and is due to be run on better ground than is usual in October.

The Beattie-Farrance Nursery (3.15) is not the most valuable on the card, but it has attracted a strong field, headed by the Balding-trained Chai Chai, who came from off the pace for a comfortable win in similar company at Chester last time, and the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained York winner Moseeb.

Chai Chai, who still looks realistically handicapped off a 5lb higher mark, carries the increasingly prevalent King Power Racing colours of Leicester City's owner, who also owns Balding's Leicester fancy Night Of Glory and whose Beat The Bank is due to take on Ribchester in the QEII on Saturday week.

Balding said: "Chai Chai won well last time and seems to be improving."

Full book of rides for Silvestre

Silvestre de Sousa had the jockeys' title sewn up months ago, but there is no taking his foot off the gas as he travels a long way from his home in Newmarket for a double-header at Catterick and Newcastle.

De Sousa has rides for five different trainers on Catterick's afternoon card, including Ed Dunlop's course and distance second First Quest in the 1m4f handicap (4.10), and then heads even further up the A1 for another five rides at Newcastle's evening fixture, where the most interesting of them is arguably Tiercel for Roger Varian in the mile handicap (8.30).

Silvestre de Sousa: set to secure his second jockeys' championship

Tiercel has not been seen for a year but his Windsor win last October was his second from only three starts in 2016 and he is only 4lb higher. Varian has a terrific record with horses returning from long absences and the four-year-old remains a handicapper with potential.

Hugo Palmer saddles two of Tiercel's rivals in Harlow, who will be ridden by Josephine Gordon, and Omeros, the mount of Jack Mitchell.

Palmer has not quite maintained the success he initially enjoyed on turf at Newcastle since the track installed its Tapeta surface, but his 12 winners from 36 runners nevertheless represents a very healthy strike-rate considering how competitive all-weather racing is there, and they show an excellent £17.12 profit.

Click here for Alastair Down's interview with Silvestre de Sousa

Morando heads to France

Varian has identified a great opportunity in France for last month's Haydock Group 3 third Morando.

The French-bred four-year-old, who returned late and was having only his third start behind the ill-fated Ballet Concerto, travels to Bordeaux Le Bouscat for the Group 3 Prix Andre Baboin-Grand Prix des Provinces, in which he faces only four opponents and will have Christophe Soumillon's assistance.

Varian said: "Morando has enjoyed a productive season at stakes level and his most recent efforts have suggested he will benefit from this step up in trip.

"He looks to set the standard on form, he will probably appreciate getting back on better ground and I'm delighted we have secured the services of Christophe Soumillon. He is in good order and I am very hopeful of a big performance.

Among his rivals is the Francois Rohaut-trained Qurbaan, who was a close fifth behind Sovereign Debt in the Mile at Lingfield on All-Weather Championship Finals day and was most recently a beaten favourite at the international meeting at Veliefendi in Turkey.

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Night Of Glory ran well when second at Haydock last time and seemed to handle the soft ground. He should be competitive
E.W. Terms
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