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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Four contenders well worth considering at Headquarters

Isabel De Urbina chases home Horseplay at Newmarket in May
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Isabel De Urbina 2.05

The card starts with the British Stallion Studs EBF Listed Chalice Stakes, a race that has produced several high-class winners, including Seal Of Approval, Ambivalent and Silk Sari.

This year's running looks up to standard, with Isabel De Urbina one of the more interesting contenders. Making only her fifth start, there is a definite sense the best is yet to come from this filly, and in Ralph Beckett she is with the right trainer to realise her potential.

Runner-up in the Pretty Polly, she was then sixth behind Enable in the Oaks, before finishing second again over course and distance last time in a Listed race.

As you would expect for the grade, there are some decent fillies and mares in opposition, including the returning To Eternity, and Ribblesdale fifth Apphia, but Isabel De Urbina could be one to follow.

Beckett said: "It was a much-improved showing last time and she goes into the race in good form. I hope she can show up well again."

Neola 2.40

From the Marygate at York to the Queen Mary to the Princess Margaret, then to a nursery. That is the path Neola has taken since winning a novice at Nottingham, and she looks the obvious form pick to return to winning ways.

Mick Channon: keeps sending out two-year-old winners

At Royal Ascot Mick Channon's filly was fifth behind Heartache, then only sixth to Nyaleti in the Princess Margaret, a performance Channon felt was down to the slower ground. She has to concede weight all round, but if back to her Royal Ascot form could prove a cut above her rivals.

Channon said: "I was a bit disappointed last week. I didn't think she ran her race at Ascot. I think she'll like the ground better at Newmarket."

Love Dreams 4.25

Mark Johnston has been making hay at Goodwood this week and he has the chance to bag more prize-money with this colt.

Unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile, Love Dreams was beaten in his first two starts this season but returned to winning form with a vengeance over course and distance last time with a five-length success.

Love Dreams and Silvestre de Sousa win the Spindrifter at Pontefract

Entries in the Hungerford and Park Stakes suggest Love Dreams could be better than a handicapper and, even with a 9lb rise for his latest success, that may not be enough to anchor him in a field containing older and exposed rivals.

Johnston said: "We had him in at Goodwood and at Chester as well, but Newmarket was just too good to miss. It's an ideal opportunity to move up in grade a little bit over course and distance. I've no grumbles with the handicapper – that's what we expected."

Lugano 5.00

In June, Lugano did what so many residents of Heath House have done before when racking up a quickfire hat-trick, having also scored off 60 at Newcastle on his final start last season. His victories this term took him from a mark of 69 to 87, although he came unstuck off 83 under a penalty at Ayr.

Lugano: returns from a break after progressing in June

The Sir Mark Prescott-trained four-year-old returns from a 43-day break and a raft of entries for Tuesday and Wednesday suggest Lugano may not have finished progressing just yet, although he will have to shoulder top weight against some other potential improvers.

Jockey Luke Morris said: "He has a good chance of picking up the winning thread and 1m4f with a little bit of cut should be fine for him."

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I've no grumbles with the handicapper – that's what we expected
E.W. Terms
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