Lake to take Doncaster honours
Ashley Iveson previews Monday's racing and he feels Hammersly Lake can register another Doncaster win for Nicky Henderson.
Nicky Henderson: Trains Hammersly Lake
DONCASTER: 1.00 Lough Derg Farmer, 1.30 Hammersly Lake, 2.05 County Road, 2.40 American Gigolo, 3.10 Deputy Commander, 3.45 Graceful Legend.
LINGFIELD: 1.15 Lily Fontana, 1.45 Just An Idea, 2.15 Aurora Gray, 2.50 NOTTE ILLUMINATA (NAP), 3.20 Presto Boy, 3.55 Lucrezia.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 1.55 Kenstone, 2.30 Smiley Bagel, 3.00 L'Apogee, 3.35 Our Channel. 4.05 La Vie En Rose, 4.35 Midge Hall, 5.05 Palenville.
DOUBLE: Notte Illuminata and Hammersly Lake.
Hammersly Lake can be relied upon to resume winning ways in the grandnational2017.com Novices' Chase at Doncaster.
The Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year-old achieved a very respectable peak rating of 145 over hurdles.
He performed admirably in defeat in both the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and a similarly competitive handicap at Punchestown in the spring of 2015, but fell on his chasing debut at Fakenham later that year and did not return to competitive action until nine months later.
A fine effort over timber at Market Rasen last July suggested his powers remained intact and he opened his account over fences in some style at the same venue in August.
He was a shade disappointing on his return from a short break at Chepstow, but raised his game to chase home Le Prezien in an Arkle trial at Cheltenham and there was not much wrong with his close-up third behind stable companion Top Notch at Ascot three weeks ago.
Hammersly Lake is the highest-rated runner in this field and with the forecast suggesting a relatively sound surface in his favour, it looks a gilt-edged opportunity for him to hit the bullseye once more.
Stablemate Lough Derg Farmer should earlier have initiated a double for Henderson in the sunbets.co.uk Maiden Hurdle.
Winner of a point to point last May, Lough Derg Farmer was subsequently snapped up for £56,000 but failed to sparkle on his debut under Rules at Warwick at the beginning of December.
He was beaten a long way back in fifth but should have learnt a fair bit for the outing and can shape with more promise here.
Graceful Legend gets the nod in the Polypipe Mares' Handicap Hurdle.
The six-year-old will be bidding for a quick course-and-distance double after scoring a game success at the end of December.
Ben Case's charge won by a length on that occasion but showed an excellent attitude in the process, toughing it out in what proved to be a bit of a tactical affair.
That was probably only a moderate event but Graceful Legend has been making swift progress up the rankings of late, and she can continue on that upward curve here.
Notte Illuminata could have been underestimated by the assessor in the 32Red/EBF Fillies' Handicap at Lingfield.
The filly had two runs in France before being bought by Karl Burke and she wasted no time at all in opening her account for new connections.
Travelling strongly throughout, she cruised into contention and did not have to be hard ridden to win a Newcastle maiden over a mile on Tapeta.
With Godolphin originally, she is typically well-bred and is a full sister to a Group Two winner in Lilbourne Lad.
Last time out she looked a good deal better than the runner-up, who brought a rating of 74 into the contest and went on to win next time out.
Notte Illuminata runs in this off 79, with the capable Jordan Vaughan, who was on at Newcastle, taking 5lb off.
The step up to 10 furlongs for the 32Red Maiden will surely suit Lucrezia.
Sir Michael Stoute probably had higher hopes for this Cheveley Park Stud-owned filly, who is by Nathaniel and out of Nannina.
She showed little on her first two outings, over six furlongs at Pontefract and a mile at Chelmsford, but there was far more promise over an extended mile at Wolverhampton.
Stoute fitted her with a visor there, which is still on, and it could be telling that despite a lowly rating of 66 connections are persisting in maidens.
Nathaniel's offspring come into their own the further they go, so expect to see a different proposition.
Jamie Osborne has already enjoyed a good return with a former William Haggas inmate in Battalion and he can repeat the trick with Our Channel in the Betway Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton.
Our Channel ran in the Derby won by Australia and while that was pitching a bit high, he has proven himself a capable performer in Listed and Group Three races.
He had his last race for Haggas at Glorious Goodwood and whether he had a problem or not, he did not run again until making his debut for Osborne over Christmas.
Now six, he shaped very promisingly having his first outing for so long and was only beaten a length and a quarter into fourth.
Entitled to strip much fitter, he can turn the tables on Forceful Appeal.
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