MORNING BRIEF: After notching up four wins in five races, Lusail goes head-to-head with Reach For The Moon at Doncaster on Saturday.
The first thing to acknowledge is that numbers wise, it is slightly disappointing to see only four runners going to post for such a prestigious event as the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster (2:20 Saturday). However it is still a fascinating event as anyone of the four could win. It is to be acknowledged that the sole Irish challenger Twilight Jet has a bit to find on official ratings and he is the outsider of the party but he only finished two lengths behind Lusail in the Gimcrack Stakes last time and so he doesn’t have a huge amount to find.
However the betting suggests that the focus should be on the three UK horses and to help identify a potential winner, Racing Preview has taken to outline the time figures and associated speed ratings of each horse’s most recent outing. Starting with the Gimcrack Stakes at York, where Lusail produced a performance that was not only visually commanding but it was also very strong on the clock. His winning time figure of 1m 10.13s equated to a speed rating of 78 and this is the best speed rating given to any two-year-old by Racing Preview this season. The horse is very progressive and he met with his only defeat when encountering soft ground at Pontefract on his second start. Good and good to firm ground is key to him and his chances will increase if little rain falls at Town Moor.
The current favourite is Reach For The Moon trained by John and Thady Gosden. He returned a speed rating of 71 when taking the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown last time out. Before that his comprehensive Newbury defeat of Harrow now looks even better given that horse’s current exploits and in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot he proved to be the only horse to give Point Lonsdale a race this season when going down by a hard fought half a length. He has earned his place at the top of the market.
Bayside Boy meanwhile is potentially exciting too. He made a sparkling debut at Newbury when beating the 87 rated Find by an impressive 3¼ lengths. He then ran in the listed Denford Stakes where he went down by just a head to the 107 rated Masekela. It was another very good run from the son of New Bay however the time was nothing special and he returned a speed rating figure of 61. He could very easily win this if he shows normal improvement on what he has shown so far however he does have quite a bit to find on all known form and speed figures.
And so it could come down to a straight shoot out between Lusail and Reach For The Moon if official ratings and speed ratings are to be believed. Lusail has a 3lb group penalty to carry and he will need the ground to stay on the good or faster side to increase his chances. If any rain does get into the ground then that is likely to favour Reach For The Moon more than it would Lusail. It is almost too close to call however on genuine good to firm ground and with a speed rating of 78 to his credit then Lusail will have every chance of utilising his speed and that could be key over this flat seven furlong trip.
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