KIRK EYES CHURCHILL FOR SALOUEN

Daily Star - - Sports - By JAMES RICHARD­SON

THERE were 16 en­tries left at the lat­est con­fir­ma­tion stage for Satur­day’s £40,000 Listed Bet­way Churchill Stakes at Lingfield.

It is one of two Fast-Track Qual­i­fiers to be run this week­end – the other is the six-fur­long £37,000 Listed Bet­way Golden Rose Stakes.

The win­ners of those con­tests will re­ceive an au­to­matic place in their re­spec­tive races on Cham­pi­onships Fi­nals Day, Good Fri­day, March 30 2018.

Salouen, run­ner-up in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc La­gardere, is among the en­tries for the Churchill and trainer Sylvester Kirk, pic­tured, is keen to run him and has booked cham­pion jockey Sil­vestre De Sousa.

“I am se­ri­ously think­ing about run­ning Salouen at Lingfield Park on Satur­day, al­though I need to speak to the owner first and have a look at the race,” said Kirk.

“He trav­elled out to Italy for the Premio Roma, which was called off be­cause the track looked like a river, but he is in great form at the mo­ment.

“We de­cided to give him an en­try here be­cause we got him ready for his run in Italy and he is jump­ing out of his skin.

“We haven’t got any plans for him over the win­ter – he wasn’t en­tered for Hong Kong – and we want to keep him straight­for­ward for a nice four-year-old cam­paign.

“We could look at the Bet­way Win­ter Derby, al­though that would in­volve ® start­ing him off early next sea­son. He should be fine on the all-weather as he trains on it all the time.

“It’s al­ways a worry when they haven’t raced on it be­fore, but most horses cope with it fine.”

Ed Dun­lop’s Red Ver­don also boasts Group One placed form in France and has solid all-weather form af­ter be­ing beaten a head by Titi Makfi at Kemp­ton re­cently.

There is lit­tle to choose be­tween that pair should they line up again.

Boyn­ton could go in to bat for Godol­phin af­ter his re­cent placed ef­fort in Listed com­pany at New­mar­ket and there may be a French chal­lenger in the shape of In The Lope.

He is trained by Pia Brandt, who sent over Metropol to con­test the Churchill in 2015, when he fin­ished third and fifth 12 months ago.

There were 28 pos­si­bles for the Listed Bet­way Golden Rose Stakes. The progressive three-year-old filly Di­ag­nos­tic is the most in­ter­est­ing. She is un­beaten in three all-weather ap­pear­ances, while Blue De Vega, third in last year’s Ir­ish 2,000 Guineas, could make his sec­ond start since switch­ing to trainer Robert Cowell. Lead­ing jumps owner Alan Potts has died at the age of 80. The Potts husband-and-wife team en­joyed an in­cred­i­ble sea­son in 2016-17, spear­headed by the Jes­sica Har­ring­ton­trained Siz­ing John re­al­is­ing a life­long am­bi­tion for the York­shire­man in win­ning the Chel­tenham Gold Cup in March. Siz­ing John had also won the Stan James Ir­ish Gold Cup at Leop­ard­stown and went on to com­plete at Punchestown in the Coral-spon­sored equiv­a­lent. Har­ring­ton also trained Su­pa­sun­dae to win the Fes­ti­val’s Coral Cup for Potts, while Fox Nor­ton, Siz­ing Codelco and Ping­shou won at the Grand Na­tional meet­ing at Ain­tree for Colin Tiz­zard.

CLASS ACT: Salouen, right, is en­tered at Lingfield on Satur­day

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