Talking Horses: Lucky Max stands out at Lingfield’s Winter Million

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Sean Doyle’s fast-improving six-year-old can get the better of a strong field on the opening day of Lingfield’s festival

The £100,000 Sovereign Handicap Hurdle is the feature event on the first day of the inaugural Winter Million meeting at Lingfield on Friday and it has attracted a strong field including Metier, a Grade One winner as a novice, and three challengers from Ireland.

Metier has failed to add to his decisive victory in the Tolworth Hurdle in three subsequent starts, but he hinted at a return to something like that level when fourth in a valuable race at Ascot just before Christmas. Harry Fry’s runner also has form on heavy going, unlike Emmet Mullins’s Carrarea, a sole ride on the card for Irish champion Paul Townend.

Fellow raider Lucky Max (3.35), however, is a winner on deep ground and defied a 15lb hike in the weights to complete a hat-trick in a big field at Cork in December. The sixth and eighth horses home there were winners next time, he gets on really well with useful 3lb-claimer Jack Foley and Sean Doyle’s fast-improving six-year-old looks the pick of the prices at around 6-1.

Southwell: 12.10 Glen Rosa, 12.40 Last Ammo, 1.10 Hart Fell, 1.40 Trevie Fountain, 2.15 Back From Dubai, 2.50 Custard The Dragon, 3.25 Inevitable Outcome, 3.55 Arlecchino’s Gift.

Market Rasen: 12.30 Captain Broomfield, 1.00 Uberman, 1.30 Le Grand Lion, 2.05 Angels Landing, 2.40 Mullenbeg (nb), 3.15 Hunny Moon, 3.45 Raecius Felix.

Lingfield: 12.50 Nurse Susan, 1.20 Legends Ryde, 1.50 Le Ligerien, 2.25 Emitom, 3.00 Broken Halo, 3.35 Lucky Max (nap), 4.08 Zalvados

Newcastle: 4.00 Resumption, 4.30 Vindobala, 5.00 Diavolo, 5.30 Sugar Baby, 6.00 Lord Paramount, 6.30 Atrafan, 7.00 Tommy Taylor.

Market Rasen 1.30: The market leaders Minella Buster and Le Grand Lion both put up improved performances last time. A strong pace seems certain here and that just tips the balance in favour of Ben Pauling’s six-year-old, who proved his stamina at Huntingdon last month.

Lingfield 1.50: Le Ligerien has never been the most consistent of performers but his debut win over fences at Chepstow a fortnight ago was backed up by a strong time so perhaps a wind op over the summer has done the trick.

Market Rasen 2.05: Angels Landing improved to finish within five lengths of a useful winner at Ludlow earlier this month and starts his handicapping career on a very fair mark.

Lingfield 2.25: If On The Blind Side runs to the form of his close second in a Grade Two in November, he will take all the beating but his last two outings have been well below par and Emitom, returning to hurdles after two tries over fences, may be the more reliable option.

Market Rasen 2.40: Mullenbeg was easy to back on her debut 11 days ago but she powered clear to win with any amount in hand and Milton Harris’s mare looks overpriced again at around 12-1.

Lingfield 3.00: Broken Halo improved from his chasing debut to win a handicap at Exeter in a decent time on New Year’s Day, and can take this step up in class in his stride.

Market Rasen 3.15: A 3lb rise in the weights is unlikely to stop Hunny Moon following up his course-and-distance win in November.

• The Market Rasen meeting is subject to an 8am inspection due to the threat of frost.

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