Firebeam can burn off rivals in Group 3 Criterion
By Stephen, bettingexpert.com | Edited
Google+: Stephen Harris
William Haggas can land Newmarket's Group 3 John Sunley Memorial Criterion Stakes at 3.35 this afternoon with his progressive 4-y-o Firebeam.
The progressive gelding signed off 2011 with a very comfortable success in a useful minor event at Haydock and returned with a close second at that track on his reappearance. He was below form in a messy Group 3 in France last time out, but that run is best overlooked and he is still unexposed at this level. Hayley Turner is in the saddle for the first time and can produce her mount late on the eased ground that should suit ideally.
Main danger for the £55,000 prize money comes from Mick Easterby's Hoof It. He was hugely progressive last year, putting in a top class handicap performance in the Stewards Cup to top off a memorable season. Upped in class he went down all guns blazing in the Haydock Sprint Cup in September and is surely capable of winning Group prizes if the improvement continues. However, he ran very flat when a modest onepaced fifth on his return at York (heavily backed but labouring under pressure before halfway) and this step upto 7f on easy ground is not sure to suit.
Libranno put two uninspiring runs behind him when winning at Salisbury last time, always well placed in a rather muddling contest. He has won twice at Newmarket in the past and a strike rate of six wins from nineteen races shows he is a classy sprinter when on song.
Paul D'Arcy's stable star Edinburgh Knight was well fancied for the Royal Hunt Cup 10 days ago, but was never able to land a blow and this step back down in trip to 7f may help. He ended 2011 firmly on the up, winning a warm Ascot handicap and a Kempton listed event, and promised another good term when a creditable fourth of 22 in the Lincoln. Connections will be hoping the forecast rain stays away as quickish ground has always been the 5-y-o's optimum conditions.
Majestic Myles ran as well as he ever has when a good close second to Pastoral Player in a Haydock Group 3 earlier this month. A reproduction of that form would see him in the mix once more but he does tend to struggle to get his head in front and others may be less exposed.
Bannock comes from the Mark Johnston stable that has been struggling for form recently and he has been well held in his last two starts raised in grade, while Mister Green and Sos Brilliante both appear hopelessly outclassed.
In summary, a quality renewal with major doubts over the forecast favourite Hoof It. At around 5-1 this morning, Firebeam is a rock-solid each way alternative to put the disappointment of his run in France last time out behind him.
Stephen's Saturday Nap Michelangelo 2.00 Newmarket
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