Three runners who catch the eye at Stratford and Lingfield
All eyes will be on Justify at Belmont Park as he bids to join the elite list of US Triple Crown winners, but before that date with destiny, there is action from Lingfield and Stratford to keep you entertained.
What better way to warm up for one of the biggest occasions in Flat racing than with a 3m3½f handicap chase? But connections of Dandy Dan will not be complaining if he scoops the prize. Only a five-year-old with just six starts and one over fences, he is bred for staying trips and gives the impression stamina is his strong suit. He made his debut in a bumper just over a year ago, so perhaps it is a little surprising he is running in a race like this, but you cannot say Kim Bailey– a trainer who has won the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle– does not know what he is doing.
Jonathan Portman sent out 15 winners in Britain in the whole of last year, so he is clearly having a good campaign as he has already reached the figure this term. What is more, Portman is doing it at his finest strike-rate, so reaching the personal-best tally of 23 he had in 2011 appears in reach. Choral Music has contributed two of those victories, although she did not fire at Bath last time and has a career-high mark to overcome. That said, she could have more to offer being lightly raced and is going the right way, according to her likeable and capable trainer.
Useful hurdler Court Minstrel has served trainer Evan Williams, owner Janet Davies and sire Court Cave well, but perhaps it is time for the new generation and the trio are represented this evening by Court Royale, who should be among the main players in Stratford's bumper. He was a beaten favourite at Ffos Las two weeks ago, but was not disgraced and one bit of form must put him in the mix. In November, he finished second at Ludlow to the well-regarded Vinndication, who went on to be three from three over hurdles, ending his season with victory in the Listed Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon.