Surfing The Sand

    All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft previews the latest Fast Track Qualifier for the Mile Final at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in France on Saturday and spotlights two cracking sprint handicaps on the home front in the coming days.
  • Thursday 16 February 2017
  • Blog


Hamdan Al Maktoum’s QURBAAN sets a demanding standard in France’s latest Fast Track Qualifier for the All-Weather Championship Finals at Lingfield Park on Good Friday.

Trained by Francois Rohaut, the four-year-old son of Speightstown should prove hard to beat in the Listed Prix Saonois over 1m at Cagnes-Sur-Mer on Saturday (3.45) – a race that hasn’t attracted any British runners but will guarantee the winner a place in the £150,000 Mile Final.

Qurbaan was held in high enough regard to contest the UAE 2,000 Guineas last year, though he ran poorly, and has since established himself as a solid performer at this level.

He just got the better of the British-trained Sovereign Debt – second in the last two Mile Finals - in a similar contest at Deauville before Christmas after finishing a close second to another English-trained raider, Bravo Zolo, in Listed company on turf at Chantilly in October.

Rohaut also runs Cersei, who won a Redcar maiden for David Simcock last spring and posted her best effort for new connections when scoring over 6.5f at Deauville in December. Despite having top jockey Stephane Pasquier for company, this represents a significant step up in grade.

A danger to Qurbaan (the mount of Francois Bertras) could be the French-trained Almorox, who ventured into Spain to win a Listed race over 1m on turf last autumn and finished a demoted second in this race 12 months ago.

Calamari, trained in France by Jane Soubagne, steps up in grade having won a Deauville handicap in December over the extended 7f, while the eight-year-old Campillo, the mount of the excellent Maxime Guyon, came up short at this level on turf behind Qurbaan at Chantilly in October.  


If crack sprinter Lancelot Du Lac sets the standard for Good Friday’s Final, then DOCTOR SARDONICUS must be booked for a bold show in Lingfield’s feature race on Saturday, the Betway Best Odds Guaranteed Plus Handicap (3.30).

The speedy chestnut finished less than a length behind Dean Ivory’s star over the minimum trip at Chelmsford last month off a 1lb lower mark – form that has been franked by Lancelot Du Lac’s subsequent victory in the Listed Cleves Stakes over this course and distance.

Trainer David Simcock believes 5.5f would be the Doctor’s ideal trip, but whilst there’s no doubt that galloping 6f around Chelmsford City stretches him, there are grounds to suggest he will prove more effective over the same distance at Lingfield.

For starters, the Surrey track is much sharper and it’s worth remembering that the six-year-old did break his maiden over the straight 7f on turf at Lingfield as a juvenile, and won a Yarmouth handicap over 6f last summer.

He may have the most to fear from David Barron’s Fast Track, whose only previous try at Lingfield was encouraging. He was doing his best work at the finish when second to the useful Royal Birth over 5f last March and confirmed his wellbeing with a strong finish to win over 6f at Wolverhampton last time. Despite a 5lb rise, he remains fairly treated.

Mick Appleby’s imposing Poyle Vinnie doesn’t strike me as a Lingfield horse but would almost certainly make the cut for the final off his current mark so a dress rehearsal makes sense on the back of some smart efforts at Newcastle and Southwell.


3.45 QURBAAN (Nap)




Wolverhampton stages a high-value sprint feature on Monday afternoon which promises to pitch some exciting speed merchants into combat, including David Simcock’s progressive JORDAN SPORT.

The Newmarket trainer speaks highly of the four-year-old in his Stable Tour on this site and this dual 6f winner appears to have enough natural speed to cope with the drop back to the minimum trip in the £45,000 added Betway Handicap (3.45).

A low to middle draw will, of course, be crucial in a race that may also see the re-appearance of Fast Track Qualifier Doc Sportello, who claimed some notable scalps in conditions company at Newcastle last month. He must return to a handicap off a 16lb higher mark, however.

Another contender could be Tony Carroll’s Boom The Groom, who won this race last year and posted an eye-catching comeback run in the Listed Cleves Stakes at Lingfield Park, finishing a close third to Lancelot Du Lac.

The race will be live on At The Races and I’m looking forward to reporting on the action before and after the big race trackside.

  • Race Type
  • Location
  • Date Range
More options
  • Race Class
  • Distance
  • Official Going
  • Race Types