Francis Of Assisi in 'good nick' for Rose of Lancaster at Haydock

Fri 11 Aug 2017

Francis Of Assisi makes a rare appearance on a British racecourse when he runs in the Betfred Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock on Saturday.

Charlie Appleby's globetrotter won the Bendigo Cup and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Australia last year, and is currently at the head of the betting for the Melbourne Cup in November.

Bought out of Aidan O'Brien's yard to go hurdling by John Ferguson, he came up short against the best over timber and was transferred to Appleby, who has really found the key to the seven-year-old.

"He's in good shape. He obviously had the spring off after his victories in Melbourne last year and he's currently joint-favourite for the Melbourne Cup," said Appleby.

"He'll be making his way back down there. They start quarantine in the middle of September and we'll get a run into him before he goes on the plane – he's in great nick.

"I couldn't be any happier with him and I'm looking forward to seeing him out and then he'll be on his travels."

Appleby told Betfred TV: "He's not far off full fitness, to be fair. He's better going there fresher than too fit first time out.

"He's fresh and well and looks in good shape."

The one unbeaten runner in the Group Three contest is Laraaib, who beat Royal Ascot winner Atty Persse at Haydock in May and has since won at Ascot.

"I was a bit worried at Ascot as they didn't go very quick and I thought it was going to turn into a bit of a sprint," said trainer Owen Burrows.

"Dane (O'Neill) thought that as well, but there was the false rail and he was always going to get room up the straight when they turned in.

"It took him 50 yards to hit top gear, but I was impressed with him. He is still big and raw, but we can't fault what he has done."

Sir Michael Stoute's Autocratic is strongly fancied, and with good reason, having won the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.

Chris Richardson, of owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: "The original plan was to bring him back at York (York Stakes), but unfortunately he got a stone bruise the day before and we had to miss it.

"The ground will probably be softer than ideal on Saturday, but he's extremely fresh and well and he desperately needs a run.

"He's in very good order and we really need to run him if we're going to think about running in races like the Juddmonte International."

Cheveley Park also run the Richard Hannon-trained Larchmont Lad.

"Larchmont Lad is in good form," said Richardson.

"Ryan Moore rode him at Newmarket last time and told us we should try him over a bit further on slightly softer ground, so we're taking his advice."

Owners Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar of Authorized fame also have two runners, Roger Charlton's Ayrad and the Hannon-trained Euginio.

Ayrad went close in the Wolferton at Royal Ascot but was then well beaten in a Listed race at Sandown.

"I think it was a clear case of his last race coming too soon after Ascot," said Tony Nerses, racing manager to the owners.

"He'd run so well there on his first run back, but it was an error to run him back so quickly. It was a bit too much for him.

"We're hopeful he'll run a big race and on his best form he should be thereabouts. The ground won't bother him.

"Euginio is an improving sort, but whether he is up to this class yet, I'm not sure. I hope he is.

"The ground is a bit of a worry with him. He's never run on it before so you don't know until you try.

"I think he needs better ground, but with his rating we can't really pick and choose his races as there aren't many to go for.

"He's an up-and-coming horse. Richard's horses are flying so I hope he runs well."

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