KANTARA Castle can rule the roost beneath the Wolverhampton floodlights when he runs in the Coral Connect Handicap.
The four-year-old gelding has not won in 17 starts since he was claimed by John Mackie from out of Richard Hannon’s yard, but that unwanted statistic could soon be struck from the record.
There were, after all, distinct signs he might finally have turned a corner in three recent starts at Wolverhampton, most notably when he got to within a length and a half of Elle Rebelle on 17 October.
He did not do too badly, either, over this course and distance a week later when third behind Outlaw Torn – despite having been badly hampered inside the final two furlongs.
Having signed off for the Hannons on a mark of 72, Kantara Castle returns to Wolverhampton some 18lb lower in the weights.
With the trusty Joe Fanning back on board, he must hold every chance in what is a humdrum affair at best.
Phantom River looks a swell proposition in the Ladbrokes Handicap.
Alan King’s three-year-old needs to master a relatively strong line-up featuring a clutch of bang-in-form rivals, but she could be a little less exposed than most.
That certainly looked the case over this eight-and-a-half-furlong trip in October when she finished third on her handicap debut, beaten just a length and a half. Phantom River would probably have got a little closer, too, had she not made a tardy start, while having to be switched wide for daylight hardly helped her cause.
King must have been fairly satisfied by that run, but the Observatory filly has nonetheless been relieved of 2lb upon her return to the fray – a point of interest that merely strengthens her claims at Dunstall Park.
El Namoose deserves to be recognised as a major player in the Iron Stand Beginners’ Chase at Ascot.
Trained by John Ferguson, the Godolphin cast-off thrived in bumpers and did not look too shabby in two starts over hurdles, either. He was always going to end up over fences, though, and must have deeply satisfied his trainer at Huntingdon on 1 November when he made a pleasing chasing bow.
El Namoose jumped well from the outset before he was put in his place by the very useful Sametegal.This slightly shorter trip should be of little consequence in a race that lacks strength in depth.
Altruism could feasibly strike gold in the Listed Betfair Tap Tap Boom Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock. Jimmy Moffatt’s five-year-old faces by far his toughest test to date, but he excelled in two triumphs at Cartmel during the summer and is well worth a try at this grade.
Saint John Henry’s form figures are hardly inspiring, but the prospect of more testing ground than at Cheltenham last time could see him revived in the Bet totetrifecta Handicap Hurdle at Ffos Las.