Surfing The Sand

Wolverhampton stages a Fast Track Qualifier on Saturday for the £150,000 3YO Final on Good Friday. Our All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft previews the race and the supporting Class 2 handicap on the Tapeta track.

  • Thursday 05 December
  • Blog
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Godolphin’s RAAEB should be tough to deny in the Ladbrokes ‘Play 1-2 Free’ On Football Conditions Stakes (6.20) at Wolverhampton on Saturday - a Fast Track Qualifier for the £150,000 3YO Final on Good Friday.

For a colt with a middle distance pedigree, the son of Raven’s Pass is blessed with an abundance of speed and is drawn to attack in stall 1 - just as he did when putting his rivals to the sword around Kempton Park last month.

Saeed Bin Suroor’s chestnut, whose dam was a 1m4f winner, made every yard that night and will be hard to peg back if he gets away sharply and should have the stamina to keep in finding if he is taken on for the lead.

That scenario looks likely with at least three confirmed front-runners in opposition, including Tony Carroll’s expensive Irish recruit Kondratiev Wave, who is drawn next door in stall 2 and will almost certainly attempt go forward with him.

However, promising previous winners Auchterarder and Dancin Inthestreet have both been posted out wide so may find it difficult to dominate. The former must also prove herself over an additional furlong following her all-the-way win over 5f at Wolverhampton for Mark Johnston last month but Dancin Inthestreet has already ticked that particular box.

She did well to overcame a wide draw to win over this trip at Lingfield Park last month and has the tools to figure for William Haggas and Tom Marquand, who combined to win this last year with Deputise.

Another legitimate contender is Eoghan O’Neill’s overseas contender Be Ahead, who easily shrugged off moderate opposition over 5f here in October. She has placed form over 6f in France but probably has to raise her game to beat some smart opponents on these terms.

Archie Watson has enjoyed another prolific year with his juveniles and his joint-top rated Maystar warrants respect. A 5f winner at Southwell, he came within an ace of landing a valuable sales race over 6.5f at the Curragh in September and has been gelded since disappointing in a Listed race on heavy ground at Deauville seven weeks ago.


Francis Xavier and Paths Of Glory, who were first and second at Newcastle last month, will both have their supporters when they clash again over a similar distance in the 1m4f Betway Handicap (7.20) at Wolverhampton on Saturday.

The admirable Francis Xavier - up 4lb form his latest success - will again try and make every post a winning one and certainly can’t be afforded a soft lead.

However, all his wins have come of stiffer, galloping tracks and the tight turns around Wolverhampton will present a new challenge to the progressive five-year-old who may have to give best to GETCHAGETCHAGETCHA.

Clive Cox’s three-year-old remains unexposed at this distance after winning a hot race on his first attempt at Leicester and running well again over it at the Midlands track on unsuitably heavy ground.

Gelded since that outing in October, he gets the benefit of a 4lb weight for age allowance and has the gears to cope with a sharper track as he proved when second in a 1m conditions stakes at Kempton back in the spring.

Paths Of Glory has winning form over this course and distance but needed every yard to claim the useful El Misk before being comfortably held by Francis Xavier at Newcastle. He will need a strong end-to-end gallop which can’t always be guaranteed around Dunstall Park and may yet come into his own over longer trips this winter.



Considering he was returning from a lengthy lay-off, Ian Williams’s gelding refused to go down without a fight and was denied by only a nose in a decent 1m4f handicap at Wolverhampton on Monday. The winner of three races on turf, he remains unexposed on synthetics and will be of interest in either of his chosen engagements at Lingfield or Kempton Park next Wednesday.


Phillip Makin has made a solid start to his training career and will be pleased with the progress this gelding is making. He was a shade unlucky not to win a 7f novice stakes at Wolverhampton last Saturday when short of room at a crucial stage. The son of Hot Streak wasn’t given a hard time under the circumstances to finish a half-length second to Angelic Time and can make his mark in handicaps in due course.


John Quinn’s filly was always at the sharp end in a 5f handicap at Southwell last Friday, chasing home two previous Fibresand winners in Young Tiger and Honey GG. Although all her 11 career starts have been over the minimum trip, she gave the distinct impression that an extra furlong could see her supplement her only previous success on heavy ground at Nottingham in October.


Times have been lean for this gelding since his 1m win at Thirsk in August last year but his latest effort at Southwell hinted that a return to the winner’s enclosure might not be too far away. John Butler’s four-year-old stayed on with purpose over 1m on the Fibresand behind a well treated winner and will be worth a step up in trip now. He’s undeniably well treated on a revised mark that is 19lb lower than the one he won off.

Surfing The Sand

Wolverhampton 18:20, 7 December 2019

Wolverhampton 19:20, 7 December 2019

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