Coral Easter Classic: Battalion has battling qualities to give Grendisar a race
Harry Preston | March 23, 2016
The Coral Easter Classic is perhaps the most prestigious race on the All-Weather calendar, and this showpiece contest of Good Friday’s Finals Day at Lingfield could see William Haggas horse Battalion have the scope to upset the odds.
Grendisar a worthy favourite
While Marco Botti’s Grendisar is a hot favourite to scoop this, having won both his starts in 2016 and a 50 per cent strike rate over course and the 1m 2f distance this season, a favourable low stall draw for Battalion could give him plenty to think about.
There is no doubting Grendisar’s credentials and his status as market leader is more than justified by his Coral Winter Derby victory last time out. The six-year-old made eye-catching headway to land this from Maverick Wave, who re-opposes, by over a length.
With half a dozen career Lingfield wins under his belt, Grendisar is primed to improve on a third place finish in last year’s Coral Easter Classic in the upcoming renewal.
Complicit was runner-up in the 2015 running of this race, but has failed to perform on the all weather this term, leaving either Maverick Wave or Batallion to lay the gauntlet down to Grendisar.
Batallion needs a clear run
Although finishing fifth of 14 and three places behind Grendisar in the listed Churchill Stakes over course and distance in November, Batallion found himself short of racing room.
His subsequent Lingfield win over AW Mile Final favourite Mindurownbusiness in the Coral Conditions Stakes was impressive, despite a small field. It was the convincing nature of this victory that marks Batallion out, as he was giving weight to that 8f expert.
Given a clear run and provided he avoids an outside draw, then Batallion represents real danger to Grendisar, and more so than Maverick Wave.
John Gosden’s hope has ran at Kempton since his Coral Winter Derby second, but proved a disappointing fourth of seven and almost two lengths down on fellow winning American horse Our Channel.
Fire Fighting could pay each-way
An attractive each-way bet in this year’s Coral Easter Classic looks to be Fire Fighting. Like Battalion, Mark Johnston’s horse will need a favourable draw, but has won three of his six all weather starts this season.
These victories include a five-length romp in the listed Carlingford Stakes at Dundalk over in Ireland. Wins at Chelmsford and Kempton either side of this are enough to suggest Fire Fighting can be a contender here.
Although down the Coral Winter Derby field, Johnston’s five-year-old was returning to action after a three-month lay-off. With those cobwebs now blown away, an each-way bet on Fire Fighting looks worthwhile.
Win – Battalion
Each-way – Fire Fighting