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Monday, 21 January, 2019

St Mary's brings All-Weather Championship form to Fibresand debut

Andrew Balding: gives St Mary's her first start on Fibresand
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3.25 Southwell
Betway Handicap l 2m l ATR

St Mary's brings the best recent form to the table on her first start on Fibresand for Andrew Balding in a competitive renewal of this £15,000 staying feature.

The five-year-old gave leading all-weather marathon fancy Watersmeet plenty to think about on her latest outing at Lingfield ten days ago, when she went down by just two lengths to the 1-4 shot.

Bred to handle testing surfaces, St Mary's is a four-time winner on good ground on turf so it will be interesting to see how she handles the underfoot conditions.

Balding said: "St Mary's has shown she can handle slow ground on the turf so we've always thought she would handle testing surfaces. She seems to thrive on her racing and ran very well at Lingfield last time.

"She goes there with a good shout, although she has to give weight to one or two good ones in there."

Closing in on a half-century of outings on the Flat and over jumps is the ten-year-old Serenity Now, who has rebooted his career since returning to this venue in December.

Brian Ellison's stalwart is on a hat-trick after a win over this trip and then handling a drop in distance to score in an amateur riders' event at the Nottinghamshire circuit in January.

Serenity Now is up 4lb for his convincing defeat of Best Example that day and could still have more to give.

Coeur De Lion: the hurdler represents Alan King on the all-weather at Southwell
Alan King has a rare runner at the track in the guise of Coeur De Lion, who is better known as a decent hurdler but does have some respectable Flat form to his name, including a second in the Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket last September.

The five-year-old has run only once on the all-weather but is fit from two spins over jumps this winter, most recently in a Class 2 contest at Newbury in December.

Epitaph represents Mick Appleby, who won this in 2015 with Katie Gale, and the bottomweight knows plenty about the track to say the least having had his last seven starts on Fibresand.

The four-year-old won once over a mile and a half in January but is stepping up to two miles for the first time.

Appleby said: "It's an experiment to see if Epitaph gets the trip. He's been getting outpaced early doors over a mile and a half so we are trying a longer trip. He's in good order and has no weight."

Others of interest in the eight-runner line-up are Galileo's Spear, who finished fourth on his first start for Sir Mark Prescott at the track last month, and novice hurdler Swashbuckle, who has his first start on the Flat for Donald McCain. 

Star to shine again

Star Ascending is the hottest ticket on the Fibresand at the moment and is on a hat-trick mission on his latest appearance at his favourite venue in the opening Betway Apprentice Handicap (2.20) at Southwell.

The topweight is up 6lb for his latest victory over Clayton Hall at the track a week ago and has the services of one of the top apprentices around in the shape of Eddie Greatrex.

Cam all ye faithful

All three of Cameron Hardie's career wins at Southwell have come on Sooqaan and the duo are on for the four-timer in the Handicap (4.00).

The former Richard Hannon apprentice has been seen to good effect on Anthony Brittain's improver, most notably when scoring by four lengths last time.

Although he is stepping out of Class 6 company, few would bet against Sooqaan bagging the four-timer such was the ease of his recent triumph over Street Poet.

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She goes there with a good shout although she has to give weight to one or two good ones in there
E.W. Terms
Sky bet