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Pyledriver & The Last Lion Return In FTQs At Lingfield Park

Fast Track Qualifiers
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11 November 2021

Pyledriver is the headline act in a quality renewal of the Listed Betway Churchill Stakes (3.40pm) at Lingfield Park on Saturday, November 13, one of two Fast-Track Qualifiers on the card.

The popular four-year-old reappears for William Muir & Chris Grassick having been sidelined since registering a first Group 1 success in the Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs in June, for which he must concede a 7lb penalty to his nine rivals.

Pyledriver is the 7/4 favourite with Betway as he prepares for a foray to Hong Kong next month, with the Marco Botti-trained Felix next in at 4/1. Felix was second in the G3 Betway Winter Derby over the course and distance in February prior to an excellent third behind Lord North in the G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan on Dubai World Cup Night.

David Loughnane is hoping last year’s winner Dubai Warrior can rediscover his best form after finishing last on his debut for the stable in the G3 Diamond Stakes at Dundalk in September. Previously trained by John Gosden, Dubai Warrior captured this race impressively 12 months ago as well as the 2020 Betway Winter Derby.

Loughnane said: “Dubai Warrior disappointed us first time out at Dundalk. He has been in good form since and needs to take a step back in the right direction.

“We have gone for the eye shields. He has tried them on at home and they seem to have benefited him. We can probably ride him a bit differently – get him to relax – and hopefully he can finish off strongly.”

A classy line up also includes the Andrew Balding-trained Fox Tal. The five-year-old was fourth in the 2019 G1 Champion Stakes and ran one of his best races this year on the All-Weather when a close third in the G3 September Stakes at Kempton Park. 

John & Thady Gosden have two contenders in Doncaster conditions race winner Harrovian and Kestenna, who steps up in trip after finishing fifth in the Listed Coral EBF Fleur De Lys Fillies' Stakes at the track last month.

Unexposed three-year-old Cu Chulainn moves up in class after winning a Kempton Park novice race on his second start. Three-time All-Weather winner Via Serendipity, Dalanijujo and Quemonda complete the field.

The winner of the 10-furlong Betway Churchill Stakes will be guaranteed a start in the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same distance at Newcastle on Finals Day.

Betway Churchill Stakes - Betway prices:

7/4 Pyledriver

4/1 Felix

5/1 Harrovian

15/2 Fox Tal

9/1 Via Serendipity

12/1 Cu Chulainn

16/1 Dubai Warrior, Kestenna

20/1 Dalanijujo

40/1 Quemondo

Each-way 1/5 1,2,3

 

A place on Finals Day is also up for grabs in the Listed Betway Golden Rose Stakes (3.05pm) over six furlongs, a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships.

All eyes will be on Mark Johnston’s runner The Last Lion as he returns from a 1,876-day absence following fertility issues at stud. Now a seven-year-old, The Last Lion was last seen out in the G1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in 2016, when he defeated future champion sprinter Blue Point to give jockey Joe Fanning a first Group 1 victory.

A closely matched field of 12 also includes the last two winners of the Betway Golden Rose Stakes in Good Effort and Judicial, trained by Ismail Mohammed and Julie Camacho respectively.

Exalted Angel posted successive career-best performances over the course and distance last season, taking out the Listed Betway Kachy Stakes in February before going down by a head to Summerghand in the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships on Finals Day.

Trainer Karl Burke said: “Exalted Angel is really well after a summer break and has been working nicely. 

“He clearly handles the track well having put up to good performances at Lingfield last season – it’s just a question of whether he is wound up enough to repeat those performances. I am not quite convinced, but he should run well all the same. 

“We have saved him for another All-Weather campaign and the main aim is to get him qualified for Finals Day. The fact the final is now at Newcastle is not a problem because he has run well there before.”

There is an international element courtesy of Irish raider Harry’s Bar, who is a three-time winner at Dundalk for Ado McGuinness, and Manjeer for French handler Carina Fey.

Misty Grey, a close third behind Exalted Angel in the Betway Kachy Stakes on his latest start, and lightly raced three-year-old Bahrain Pride are other contenders to note.

 

Betway Golden Rose Stakes - Betway prices:

7/2 Good Effort

6/1 Harry’s Bar, Misty Grey

8/1 Bahrain Pride, Judicial

9/1 Exalted Angel

10/1 Fivethousandtoone

11/1 Manjeer, The Last Lion

12/1 Soldier’s Minute

16/1 Jouska

20/1 Bimble

Each-way 1/5 1,2,3

 

Betway’s Chad Yeomans said: “It looks a fascinating renewal of the Betway Churchill Stakes, with Group 1 winner Pyledriver the horse they all have to beat. He is the 7/4 favourite with us, which could look a big price in hindsight as he’s clear on official ratings.

“The Betway Golden Rose Stakes is also fiercely competitive. Last year’s winner Good Effort is solid at the head of the market at 7/2. It’s also great to see Betway ambassador Andrew Balding sending Fivethousandtoone to the six-furlong contest. Andrew thought he was a Guineas horse at the start of the season, so it’s interesting to see him at this level.”

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