Surfing The Sand

The three-year-olds do battle at Kempton Park on Friday for a guaranteed place in the £150,000 age-group final on Good Friday. Our All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft previews the latest Fast Track Qualifier.

  • Wednesday 02 January
  • Blog
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JOHNSTON’S INTRIGUING RUNNER HOLDS FAST TRACK CLAIMS

DEEP INTRIGUE, a typical improver from the powerful battalions of the country’s most prolific trainer, has strong claims in Friday’s Fast Track Qualifier at Kempton Park.

Mark Johnston’s son of Dark Angel returned from a seven-month lay off to give weight and a beating to two promising rivals in a Chelmsford City novice stakes in December which sets him up nicely for the 32Red Conditions Stakes (4.20).

He has work to do with some of his rivals off his current mark of 90, and is posted a little wider than ideal for such a prominent racer, but this potential Pattern performer is open to considerable improvement and the ever-reliable Franny Norton should be able to use Kempton’s long straight to his advantage.

Johnston’s colt got off the mark in a Beverley novice in May that has worked out well. Runner-up Vange finished fourth in the Coventry Stakes en route to a career in Hong Kong and Lads Order and multiple winner Quiet Endeavour have both been successful on the sand.

Richard Spencer, who had a fine 2018 with his juveniles, will be hoping Kempton’s outer loop run-in will suit his contender You Never Can Tell better than the sharper track at Wolverhampton, where he finished a closing third in another Fast Track race last month.

He boasts some smart juvenile form, including a close-up fourth in the 7f Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival, but might just get going too late to peg back my selection.

Another Richard, former champion jockey Hughes, pitches his Jaber Abdullah colt Sunsprite onto the synthetics for the first time and can expect a bold show. Proven around bends after winning at Chester in the summer, he is better off at their weights with most.

Sunsprite finished third in Listed company at Ripon and was taken out of the Fast Track race at Wolverhampton ahead of his intended All-Weather debut. He must prove himself as good on Polytrack but clearly has the quality to make his presence felt, too.

Hugo Palmer’s James Street - the mount of champion apprentice Jason Watson - looks to have benefited from wind surgery if his front-running win in a course and distance novice stakes is any indication. Though defying a penalty, he did enjoy the run of the race that day and isn’t likely to get his own way up front in this much better race.

Surfing The Sand

Kempton 16:20, 4 January 2019

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