Victory Bond and Boynton headline nine runners for the £40,000 Listed Betway Churchill Stakes (2.45pm), highlight of a bumper eight-race card and one of two Fast-Track Qualifiers at Lingfield Park on Saturday, November 18.
The winner of this 10-furlong Polytrack contest receives a free and automatic place in the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same course and distance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 30, 2018.
Half a length separated Victory Bond (William Haggas/James Doyle) and Boynton (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) as the two fought out the finish to a conditions race over the same distance on Polytrack at Chelmsford City on October 12.
Both horses had previously shown a high level of form on turf, with four-year-old Victory Bond, 5/2 favourite with Betway for Saturday’s race, having finished fourth in the G2 York Stakes over an extended 10 furlongs at York in July.
Lightly-raced three-year-old Boynton (11/4) captured the G2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last season and the More Than Ready colt came home third on his latest outing in a 10-furlong Listed race at Newmarket on November 4.
Boynton is trying to provide Godolphin with a third straight win in the Betway Churchill Stakes following on from Let’s Go (2015) and Team Talk (2016), who both scored for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Charlie Appleby commented today: “I was delighted with Bonyton’s latest appearance, when the good to soft ground didn’t suit him that well.
“He is coming back to a sounder surface and, if he can reproduce his Newmarket run, it should be good enough to put him bang there.
“He ran well on the Polytrack at Chelmsford City, when he was a bit fresh and gassy, but he got into a decent rhythm last time.
“If he manages to win this race, then it give us a few options, and we can hopefully then head to Dubai in the knowledge that we have qualified him for Finals Day.”
Ayrad (9/2, Richard Kingscote), twice victorious at Listed level on turf, aims to provide trainer Roger Charlton and owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar with more Listed success at Lingfield Park.
The same trainer/owner combination struck in the Betway Winter Derby Trial last season with Decorated Knight, who went on to G1 glory in the Jebel Hatta, the Tattersalls Gold Cup and the Irish Champion Stakes.
Battalion (11/2, Jamie Osborne/Dougie Costello) won the 2014 Betway Churchill Stakes and the seven-year-old seeks a fifth course and distance victory.
Master The World (9/1, David Elsworth/Sean Levey) has been placed on both his previous appearances at Lingfield Park, including in this race 12 months ago, and returns on the back of a fine turf campaign headed by victory in the valuable Betfred Mile Handicap at Goodwood in August.
Pia Brandt sent out Metropol to finish third in the 2015 Betway Churchill Stakes and the Chantilly trainer is represented this year by progressive three-year-old In The Lope (18/1, Aurelien Lemaitre), who has won three of his four most recent starts, including on Polytrack at Chantilly on October 15.
Chelmsford City handicap scorer Petite Jack (18/1, Archie Watson/Luke Morris), Cambridgeshire Handicap runner-up Sands Chorus (33/1, James Given/Paul Mulrennan) and Listed 32Red EBF Stallions Fleur De Lys Fillies’ Stakes fourth Mia Tesoro (40/1, Charlie Fellows/Stevie Donohoe) complete the field.
Betway Churchill Stakes – Betway prices:
5/2 Victory Bond; 11/4 Boynton; 9/2 Ayrad; 11/2 Battalion; 9/1 Master The World; 18/1 Petite Jack; 20/1 In The Lope; 33/1 Sands Chorus; 40/1 Mia Tesoro
Each-way 1/5 odds, 1-2-3
A maximum field of 12 has been declared for Saturday’s other Fast-Track Qualifier, the six-furlong £37,000 Betway Golden Rose Stakes (3.15pm), which offers a place in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships over the same course and distance on Good Friday.
Magical Memory (Charlie Hills/Silvestre De Sousa) is 3/1 favourite with Betway and the five-year-old makes his All-Weather debut following several impressive runs on turf, including victory in the 2016 G2 Duke Of York Stakes and a fine fourth in this year’s G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest.
Eight-time All-Weather scorer Spring Loaded (9/2, Paul D’Arcy/Joey Haynes) stormed to a decisive victory in the Portland Handicap on turf at Doncaster in September, while Gifted Master (5/1, Hugo Palmer/James Doyle) has gained a pair of turf G3 wins.
Caspian Prince (10/1, Tony Coyle/Ben Curtis), who has won three renewals of the five-furlong Epsom Dash, carries a 7lb penalty after beating subsequent Nunthorpe Stakes heroine Marsha in the G2 Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, Ireland, in July.
German handler Dominik Moser is hoping to spring a surprise with Making Trouble (50/1, Luke Morris), a Listed winner over seven and a half furlongs at Dusseldorf in April, 2015, who switches to the All-Weather for the first time.
Moser, saddling his first runner at Lingfield Park, is no stranger to sending out big-priced winners in the UK, having enjoyed success with 33/1 chance Artistica in the Listed Kilvington Stakes at Nottingham in April and 14/1 shot Gracia Directa in the 2012 Summer Stakes at York.
The trainer said: “Making Trouble has worked well on sand and he needs good ground. We got going with him late in the season but we have had a lot of rain here in the autumn and he didn’t like the soft ground on his last two starts at Munich and Hanover.
“He ran a better race to finish fifth on good ground in the G2 Goldene Peitsche at Baden-Baden in August, but we have had so much rain since.
“He was fifth in the German 2000 Guineas as a three-year-old, but I think he is better over six or seven furlongs.
“I hope that he can run a good race. I think that he is not as good as Artistica but we want to see how he copes with the Polytrack. If he likes the All-Weather, then we have the choice of whether to go to France or come back to the UK with him.”
Betway Golden Rose Stakes – Betway prices:
3/1 Magical Memory; 9/2 Spring Loaded; 5/1 Gifted Master; 10/1 Caspian Prince, 11/1 Intisaab, Mythmaker; 18/1 Clem Fandango, Out Do; 22/1 Gracious John; 33/1 Royal Birth; Mazzini; 50/1 Making Trouble
Each-way 1/5 odds, 1-2-3
New for season five of the All-Weather Championships, sponsor Betway is offering a monthly £1,000 prize for stable staff.
The member of stable staff responsible for horses that are judged Best Turned Out before each Betway-sponsored race in the All-Weather Championships, including Saturday’s feature, will be automatically entered for the monthly draw.
This will be operated by Betway with the winner contacted during the first week of the following month and announced on Betway’s Twitter account.