Horse racing selections for Thursday: Johnston's stayer looks the real Deal

Southwell stages a Thursday meeting
Southwell stages a Thursday meeting

Lucky Deal can defy top weight in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Handicap at Chelmsford.

Lucky Deal can defy top weight in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Handicap at Chelmsford.

Mark Johnston’s stayer has won his last two, most recently a valuable event at this track last month.

That day he showed a really willing, typical Johnston-type attitude to hold off two stablemates, Elegiac and Making Miracles, defying a mark of 89 in the process.

Because he only just scrambled home the handicapper could not overreact and he only carries 2lb more this time, so there is every chance he can bring up the hat-trick.

He appears to have thrived for the step up in trip and a break after a hectic midsummer - and this race is nowhere near as competitive as his previous win.

John Gosden has been running some very promising youngsters in recent weeks and Star Catcher could be another in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes.

In the famous Anthony Oppenheimer colours, this Sea The Stars youngster is a half-sister to the classy Cannock Chase, who did so well for Sir Michael Stoute.

Intriguingly Gosden saddles another newcomer, Baltic Song - another by Sea The Stars and closely related to a Group One winner - but Robert Havlin takes the ride on Star Catcher, which looks a significant pointer.

If Ballistic takes to the Fibresand he should be the one to beat in the Ladbrokes Nursery Handicap at Southwell.

Robert Cowell’s juvenile showed up well when last seen at Goodwood in the summer - form which looks good in terms of this event.

He flew home that day behind Don Armado to take third, and if he is fit enough after over 100 days off he should be thereabouts.

The long journey north to Hexham can be made worthwhile for Nicky Henderson’s Champagne Platinum with victory in the Annual Membership Perfect Christmas Gift Novices’ Hurdle.

JP McManus’ four-year-old has already made one lengthy trip to Newcastle, where he obliged on debut at the Fighting Fifth meeting.

The Irish point-to-point winner was never off the bridle when coasting home, although he still has a long way to go to live up to his £250,000 price tag.

Nevertheless, it will be disappointing for connections if he is not up to defying a penalty.

Charlie Longsdon’s Lisdoonvarna Lad has not reached the heights as once might have looked likely, but there is time yet as he is still only six.

He has been set two pretty stiff assignments over fences to date this season, first time against Arkle favourite Kalashnikov and then against subsequent Cheltenham winner Drovers Lane.

There is nothing of their class in the Steve Hoskin Construction Handicap Chase at Exeter and he did finish third in the Grade Two over hurdles at Haydock last season, so there is plenty under the bonnet.

If Longsdon can manage to coax it back out of him there should be some fun to have.


CHELMSFORD: 5.30 Plucky Dip, 6.00 Tajawoz, 6.30 Just Later, 7.00 Star Catcher, 7.30 Elenora Delight, 8.00 LUCKY DEAL (NAP), 8.30 King Robert, 9.00 Compton Prince.

EXETER: 12.40 Evidence De Thaix, 1.10 Deebaj, 1.40 Lisdoonvarna Lad, 2.10 Kalahari Queen, 2.40 Water Wagtail, 3.10 Flinck, 3.40 Galactic Power.

HEXHAM: 12.30 Glittering Love, 1.00 Champagne Platinum, 1.30 Bulkov, 2.00 Achill Road Boy, 2.30 Late Date, 3.00 Carry On Arcadio.

SOUTHWELL: 11.50 God Willing, 12.20 Boots And Spurs, 12.50 Jennies Jem, 1.20 Favori Royal, 1.50 Ballisitc, 2.20 Nevada, 2.50 Carlovian, 3.20 Mr Strutter.

DOUBLE: Lucky Deal and Star Catcher