Live on Sky Racing 1 on Saturday night, last season’s all-weather Horse of the Year Grendisar will attempt to win Lingfield’s Listed Betway Quebec Stakes for the second time in his career.
Marco Botti’s Grendisar was an impressive winner over the 2000 metres in 2014 before being placed in both the Winter Derby and the All-Weather Middle Distance Championships, however despite then finding Don’t Be just a neck too good in last season’s renewal of the Quebec Stakes the son of Invincible Spirit was subsequently in imperious form winning his next three starts. The wins came in all the leading all-weather races, the Winter Derby Trial, the Winter Derby and the All-Weather Middle Distance Championships in what was an outstanding season resulting in the six-year-old being crowned all-weather Horse of the Year.
This season has seen Grendisar change owners and he kicked off his winter campaign with a two-length fourth in the Listed Churchill Stakes and looked as though he would come on considerably for the outing as confirmed by his trainer:
Macro Botti said: “Grendisar is going to run on Saturday. This was the target we had in mind for him since the Churchill Stakes and I think he has come on for that run. He looks well and, based on the entries, he should have a very good chance. I wasn’t disappointed with the Churchill Stakes, considering that Grendisar hadn’t run for a while. He is getting a bit older and wiser, last year he got beaten at Chelmsford on his first All-Weather appearance and it took him a couple of runs to start to show his old form. He wasn’t beaten far in the Churchill Stakes and, in hindsight, we ended up a bit further back than we wanted to be. But he will be sharper on this occasion and there will be no excuses for him. Adam Kirby is banned but Martin Harley has won on Grendisar before and he should be fine.”
Botti is also set to be represented by Brandybend who despite having only won once in an 11-race career has already been twice-placed at Listed level and has more recently been globe-trotting having been placed fourth both at Belmont Park, USA and Bro Park, Sweden.
Botti added: “Brandybend is also likely to be a runner in the Quebec Stakes. We don’t have many options for her and a mile and a quarter around Lingfield Park might be a bit sharp. She has been a little bit frustrating this year, which is a shame. She went to America and didn’t stay the trip but I think she is capable of picking up a Listed race. Whether it is against experienced opposition this Saturday, we will have to wait and see, but horses like Grendisar are proven over the course and distance. She has some black type already but ideally we would like some more as she is well bred and has a future value as a broodmare.”
Saeed Bin Suroor has some smart prospects for the big winter races and sent out Team Talk to beat Grendisar in the Churchill Stakes. The Godolphin trainer is set to be represented here by Dubai Fashion who could well be the main danger. The daughter of Dubawi won on debut at Wolverhampton but has since been mainly campaigned on the turf, showing steady improvement with an Epsom win and a couple of seconds including in a Listed fillies race over this trip at Doncaster last start.
Ismail Mohammed’s Educate is a solid performer at this level and was fit from a turf campaign when runner-up for the second time in his career in the Churchill Stakes. The seven-year-old was just over a length in front of Grendisar there and holds obvious chances again.
The Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained Energia Davos is closely matched with Educate after beating him by a neck in a Newmarket Listed contest in October and despite having never won in 14 starts on the all-weather has finished fourth, second and fourth in the last three runnings of this race. On the downside the eight-year-old has run flat twice since winning at Newmarket including when down the field in the Churchill Stakes.