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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Two-year-old kings Johnston and Fahey lock horns once more

Lake Volta: has an each-way chance, says Mark Johnston's son Charlie
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4.30 Ripon
Longines Irish Champions Weekend EBF Ripon Champion Two Yrs Old Trophy (Listed) | 6f | ATR

Having contributed to Yorkshire's clean sweep of juvenile Group races at York, Mark Johnston and Richard Fahey contest a slightly lesser two-year-old prize on Monday.

That said, the £30,000 up for grabs is not to be sniffed at, and is the best purse on offer across six UK bank holiday cards.

Johnston won last week's Lowther Stakes with Threading for Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, whose silver colours will be carried by Lake Volta in this Listed event.

Threading: a ready winner of the Lowther Stakes

With victories at this course and Brighton this month, the trainer's son and assistant Charlie said: "Lake Volta has improved hand over fist. He was one of three first-time-out two-year-olds who went to Goodwood, and that's the sort of regard he's held in. He was very impressive last time and this is a nice stepping stone."

The yard also run Rebel Assault, who finished fifth behind stablemate Nyaleti in last month's Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot.

"Rebel Assault led Nyaleti for a long way at Ascot and just ran out of petrol in the last 50 yards in that ground [good to soft] and got collared for third late on," said Charlie Johnston.

"She's on the hunt for black type and I hope she'll get away with the six furlongs on better ground."

Richard Fahey, whose Sands Of Mali took the Gimcrack at York, runs Chester second Regulator in a race he has won twice in the last four years.

"We like him," said the trainer. "I was a fraction disappointed he didn't win at Chester last time, but he didn't get the gap at the right time. He'll need to step up again."

Enjazaat drops in grade after finishing sixth in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket, while Helvetian was last of eight in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh last time.

3.50 Epsom
Poundland Saves The Day Amateurs' Derby Handicap | 1m4f | RUK

Trainer Rod Millman's son and assistant Patrick will be hoping to stretch his lead in the race for the amateur riders' title on Cotton Club in this storied contest staged over the full Derby course.

Millman jnr will know what to expect as he has ridden the six-year-old a number of times, but it will be the first time the pair will have experienced the undulating twists and turns of Epsom.

The trainer said: "Patrick has ridden four winners so far this season and it would be nice to think in terms of him being amateur champion, as you don't generally need to ride that many winners to secure the title.

"But it's not easy for amateurs like him as most of the amateur races are either for lady riders or confined to novice riders. I'm sure he'll give it his best shot as his confidence is high after winning aboard Hawridge Glory at Salisbury on Saturday."

Of Cotton Club, the trainer added: "I'm sure he'll handle the unique track, even though he's not run there before, as he has plenty of experience on his side and has been consistent all summer.

"The drying ground will also be in his favour as he prefers a fast surface, and hopefully they'll go a true pace in front and give him something to aim at after they turn for home."

Derek O'Connor travels from Ireland to ride Hollywood Road in the ten-runner contest.

4.00 Chepstow
Sir Gordon Richards Handicap (Sponsored by Oakgrove Stud) | 2m | ATR

The inaugural running of this £20,000 handicap – the brainchild of course supremo Phil Bell – honours Sir Gordon Richards, who in 1933 rode an incredible 11 consecutive winners at the track.

Bell said: "Chepstow’s history is full of memorable performances related to jump racing but we thought it was important to recognise this amazing feat by such a legendary Flat jockey.”

Taws is set shoulder top weight of 10st in the Oakgrove Stud-backed race, but her burden will eased by top apprentice David Egan's 5lb claim, and trainer Rod Millman is hoping for another big run.

He said: "We trained the mare earlier in her career but she left us for a spell over hurdles. However, she returned to the yard this spring and seems as good as ever. She's got a lot of weight but is really hardy and tough so I don't think that will worry her.

"We've a very good apprentice in David, and there seems no reason why she cannot build on her recent victory over course and distance – that was on softish ground but I don't think drying conditions will prove a problem."

1.05 Deauville
Prix Tanit | 1m 

There are British-trained runners at Deauville and Ostend on Monday – not to mention Les Landes in Jersey – and regular French forager Harry Dunlop is keen on the chances of Star Of Vendome finishing in the prize-money in this maiden contest.

The juvenile filly will attempt to make it third time lucky at Deauville when she steps up to a mile for the first time.

The trainer said: "Star Of Vendome has been stabled in Deauville this month, which means she'll get a handicap mark of some description over there so can go back in the autumn.

"She ran well over seven furlongs earlier this month. We then stepped her back to six furlongs, which didn't work out very well, so she's now moving up to a mile, which should suit.

"The weather there has been much the same as this country so I expect it will be riding on the faster side of good, which will suit the filly. Hopefully she has a good each-way chance."

6.20 Downpatrick Flat Race | 2m2¾f | ATR

If you're only half-listening to the commentary you might think Ireland's champion jumps trainer was actually contesting a race at Downpatrick!

But check the Racing Post and you'll realise it's Filly Mullins in action. Now technically a mare as she's five, she makes her debut for Willie Mullins, with son Patrick in the saddle.

The jockey said: "A bunch of my friends own her and they came up with the name."

He was very impressive last time and this is a nice stepping stone
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