Flaming Spear bids to kick off a big handicap double for Tony Bloom
While owner Tony Bloom's Sky Bet Ebor favourite Stratum is being saddled up at York, and long before his Brighton & Hove Albion take to the pitch at Anfield, Bloom's six-year-old Flaming Spear will be in action at Goodwood, where he heads the weights for the £100,000 Ladbrokes-backed handicap (3.15).
Flaming Spear is campaigned sparingly as he cannot cope with ground too fast, but he won at York in the corresponding week last year and has run two solid races in red-hot handicaps since joining Dean Ivory.
The draw will play a part in what could be a rough race, and Flaming Spear is bang in the middle in stall nine. Fellow market leader Chessman is in one, which would be ideal if he were a frontrunner but can be a mixed blessing for a hold-up horse like him.
Trainer Archie Watson said: "Chessman wants plenty of cover but doesn't need to be ridden quite as cold as he was at Ascot, where we had to take our medicine from stall 28 and he might have won in another 50 yards. From stall one he can probably race where he likes, and I think he's capable of winning one of these."
Lillie Langtry runner-up Maid Up heads just three runners for the Ladbrokes March Stakes (3.50), run for the first time in memory of John Dunlop.
Trainer Balding is understandably optimistic but recognises it is approaching the time of year when a busy filly can train off.
He said: "She's had a long season and it's always difficult to tell when that might catch up. But she seems in good form and is very effective over course and distance so I'd hope she'd go well."
Maid Up faces much lower-rated colts trained by John Gosden and Aidan O'Brien.
Gosden said: "Ben Vrackie was going to run in the Melrose but this race reopened and we thought we'd have a crack. He deserves to take his chance."
O'Brien said of Cypress Creek: "He's in good form. We think he'll handle the trip well."
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