SPEEDY Chantaco (3.10) might easily have the class to defy a 171-day absence in the Bet Direct Interactive Stakes at Lingfield.

Trainer Andrew Balding gave his gelding just three outings as a two-year-old, culminating in a runaway success at Thirsk in August. Showing tremendous dash, he drew well clear of his ten rivals at the halfway stage.

Balding's raider likes to run prominently, which should play to his strengths in a race that looks strong on paper but may not be quite as good as it seems because most of the runners have yet to take on a proven turf performer such as Chantaco.

In the £10,000 Champions League Handicap, luckless Takes Tutu (4.10) gets another chance to show his mettle. Karl Burke's near-17 hand high gelding was hampered on the home turn at vital moment when losing out in a tight finish to another of today's rivals, Katiypour. Admittedly Takes Tutu is a somewhat hard to win with these days, but a couple of years ago he was more used to campaigning at the likes of Goodwood and Haydock, a far cry from this afternoon's less competitive all-weather venue.

When Duelling Banjos (5.10) led just inside the final furlong over course and distance last month, you'd have bet your bottom dollar that he'd finish in the first three.

But it was not to be as The Violin Player, Amwell Brave, plus Eastborough, all swooped past the John Akehurst-trained five-year-old in the blink of an eye. It was a devastating blow to each-way backers of the 20-1 shot, fancied to hold on a bit longer this time and claim the closing mile-and-a-half Interactive Handicap.

Paul Blockley's decision to drop Emperor Cat (3.30) down from a mile to seven furlongs makes perfect sense.

Emperor Cat's two career victories to date have both come over the minimum trip, and he ran out of petrol when tried at eight furlongs last time out. He led for three-quarters of the contest, and jockey Robert Winston, will probably attempt to dictate affairs from the front.

Having finished runner-up on his last three outings, Beamsley Beacon (230) definitely deserves a change of fortune in the opening five-furlong Littlewoods Banded Stakes.

Seeing as Beamsley Beacon stays six furlongs well, he needs to be out of the gates like a flash, but that shouldn't be a problem as he's got bags of early toe and doubtless jockey Tom Eaves will be instructed to stay handy throughout the £2,000 race.

* Yesterday's winning nap selection, Kew Green (3-1), came hard-on-the-heels of Saturday's 12-1 corker, Forest Gunner, helping Janus (Colin Woods) to maintain his recent excellent form.

* The cold snap has claimed today's fixture at Sedgefield following the loss of Carlisle yesterday.

Officials at Doncaster and Ludlow are keeping a close watch on the weather ahead of tomorrow's meetings but are confident of racing.

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