Surfing The Sand

Our All-Weather specialist Simon Mapletoft previews the Fast-Track Qualifier at Newcastle on Tuesday, when a guaranteed place in the £150,000 Sprint Final on Good Friday is up for grabs, and spotlights the two Class 2 handicaps on a mouth-watering supporting card.

  • Sunday 20 January
  • Blog
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OUTRAGE CAN COMPLETE GOSFORTH PARK TREBLE

Improving sprinter OUTRAGE can take another big step forward by winning the 5f Betway Conditions Stakes (5.45) at Newcastle on Tuesday - a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Sprint Final at Lingfield Park on Good Friday.

Daniel Kubler’s gelding may need to improve again to claim the golden ticket but has plenty going for him on this return to his favourite venue.

Outrage has already won twice over Newcastle’s minimum trip this season - four times in total - and looked to hit a new peak when denying the well-backed Foolaad here last time.

The strong gallop he needs to show his best on this stiff track looks assured and, with regular partner Kieran O’Neill on board, he can conjure a big enough performance to beat some higher rated rivals.

Among them is Robert Cowell’s Encore D’Or, who sets a demanding standard with an official rating of 109 - some 15lb higher than Outrage. However, he has produced his best All-Weather form on sharper tracks and ran poorly on his only previous start here when among the favourites for the 2016 Gosforth Park Cup.

He was in good form when last seen at Dundalk in October, chasing home the useful Hit The Bid in a Group 3, but may just need this to put him spot on for a likely tilt at next month’s Listed Hever Stakes at Lingfield.

Like Encore D’Or, Andrew Balding’s course winner Stone Of Destiny also returns from a lay-off after being highly tried on turf last year. His best form is on the All-Weather, but he does have to prove himself all over again on his first start since being gelded.

Another contender on these terms is Dean Ivory’s veteran Tropics, who showed the fire still burns when notching his 13th career win in a good Chelmsford handicap. He ran well on his only previous visit to Newcastle, albeit over 6f, and can be relied upon to run his usual game race.

David Griffiths has got his sprinters in great nick and his dual Southwell scorer Ornate adds depth to a fascinating race. On the face of it, he has work to off a mark of 92 on these terms but this horse was rated as high as 110 in his pomp and looks to have rediscovered his mojo.

MARATHON FINALIST STARGAZER SETS THE STANDARD

Philip Kirby’s STARGAZER has already qualified for the Marathon Final at Lingfield on Good Friday after winning a Fast-Track Qualifier at Newcastle in December and looks set to follow up in the Betway Live Casino Handicap (4.10) on Tuesday.

He powered home from the useful Godolphin stayer Festival Of Ages - runner-up in another qualifier since - to claim his place under Robert Winston and can defy a 3lb rise back in handicap company over this extended 2m.

Stargazer looks in a different league to these rivals and he could yet emerge as a serious contender for the valuable Northumberland Plate over the same course and distance in the summer.

The featherweight Jim’s Goldie’s recent course and distance winner Loud And Clear carries from the bottom of the handicap could see him pick up some decent prize money, too.

WILLIAMS IMPROVER APPEALS IN VALUABLE HANDICAP

PINNATA hasn’t stopped improving this winter and can complete his hat-trick in the sunracing.co.uk Handicap (5.15) on Tuesday.

Stuart Williams’s gelding overcame a wide trip to beat subsequent winner Glory Of Paris over 1m at Chelmsford in November but bettered that with a five-length winning margin over the same trip at Kempton before Christmas.

He looks equipped to cope with an 8lb rise in this hotter race and gives the impression he will be well suited by the drop back to 7f on this demanding track.

Straight Right tops the weights off a lofty rating of 107 but will needs to raise his game if he is going to successfully give Pinnata 17lb on the back of two disappointing efforts.

Andrew Balding’s gelding couldn’t make the frame in the Listed Hyde Stakes at Kempton in November and was a beaten odds-on favourite behind Salateen at Lingfield last time.

What’s more, he needs a good, strong pace, which he got when he won over course and distance last winter, but isn’t guaranteed an end to end gallop in this field - particularly given the recent trend for slowly run races.

Surfing The Sand
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