Surfing The Sand

One of the biggest days of All-Weather Championships Season 7 takes place this Saturday when Wolverhampton and Chelmsford City stage the final two Fast Track Qualifiers for Good Friday’s £1m Finals Day. Simon Mapletoft previews the action.

  • Thursday 05 March
  • Blog
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Jason Hart can maintain his fine strike rate on GULLIVERin the Bombardier British Hopped Amber Beer Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes (2.45) at Wolverhampton on Saturday - a Fast Track Qualifier for Good Friday’s £1m Finals Day.

The Malton based jockey, who has enjoyed a fine start to the year, has won three times on the six-year-old from only five rides, including last season’s valuable Coral Sprint Trophy at York.

The pair performed better than the final placing of fourth suggests in another high profile race in Qatar last month, flying at the death after being caught on heels, but compensation could await.

Top rated Gulliver - likely to target the Sprint Final next month if he wins this - is well drawn in stall 2 and despite peaking over 6f since joining David O’Meara, does have winning form over Saturday’s 7f which could be right up his street.

Ryan Moore returns too domestic action to partner Richard Hannon’s Urban Icon, who was held in high enough regard to run in last season’s 2,000 Guineas and finished a creditable fourth in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot. He lacks All-Weather experience and a recent run but is respected, nonetheless.

Local raider Documenting has been given a break by his trainer Kevin Frost, who has had this race in mind all winter. A hold-up horse, he has overcome a wide draw here in the past but must produce a career best to take this.

There’s no doubt we haven’t seen the best of Owen Burrows’s Habub this year. He was always likely to find 6f too sharp in the Listed Cleves Stakes at Lingfield and had to give away lumps of weight back there in a handicap last time - a race he probably wouldn’t have taken part in had connections not been running out of time to get him qualified for the Mile Final.

That’s said, he was far too keen that day and whilst he’s probably up to this level, he will need to settle better for David Probert to make an impact at the business end.


A conditions race over course and distance in early February probably holds the key to the outcome of the £50,000 Bombardier Golden Beer Lincoln Trial Handicap (1.35) at Wolverhampton on Saturday.

Via Serendipity was produced to perfection that day by Hayley Turner to deny FOX POWER, with Arcanada and Another Touch further back.

However, I expect Richard Hannon’s well drawn Fox Power to turn the tables on much more favourable terms. A lightly raced four-year-old, he was smart enough to win the Listed Burradon Stakes at Newcastle last Easter and can stake his claims for a big run in the Lincoln proper at Doncaster at the end of the month.

Via Serendipity faces a tough task at the head of the weights but can be expected to give his usual running, while Another Touch ought to do better than he did here last time when he found himself too far behind in a strongly run race that should, in theory, have played to his strengths.


Last year’s winner DESERT DOCTOR has enough in his favour to follow up in the Class 2 Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap (2.10) at Wolverhampton on Saturday.

Ed Walker’s sprinter is only 3lb higher for this return to Dunstall Park, where he only just failed to reel in the in-form Reeves back in December.

Desert Doctor, fresh back from two unsuccessful attempts on turf in Dubai, is adequately drawn in stall 6 for a hold-up performer and is re-united with former All-Weather champion Luke Morris, who knows him well.

The danger may well be David Loughnane’s Concierge - three from four for jockey Silvestre De Sousa, who produced him with a well timed run to win off a 6lb lower mark over course and distance last month.

Concierge enjoyed a charmed passage that day but remains a potential improver from his revised mark of 91 and should at least be doing his best work at the finish.


MILDENBERGER has taken a few runs to get the hang of All-Weather racing but everything fell into place at Lingfield Park last month and he can follow up against better opposition in the final Fast Track Qualifier of the season, the Tote Conditions Stakes (7.30) at Chelmsford City on Saturday night.

With a lofty rating of 106, and four runs already under his girth, Mark Johnston’s smart stayer is all but assured a place in the £150,000 Marathon Final on Good Friday but can take another step towards emulating stable companion Watersmeet, who stole the glory in last season’s Final.

Twice placed in Group 2 company on turf last year, I prefer him to globetrotting top weight Red Verdon and John Gosden’s Weekender - the mount of Frankie Dettori.

Red Verdon, a beaten favourite in the 2018 Final, must shoulder a 5lb penalty for his Group 3 success at York last year and may just be wanting for match sharpness after being kept under wraps since finishing down the field in October’s Cauilfield Cup.

Best in at the weights is Weekender, who is top rated off a mark of 111. He, too, returns from a break having finished just behind Mildenberger when the pair were disappointing in the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton Park in December.

He was also held by Red Verdon in the Silver Cup on the Knavesmire and while he should acquit himself more effectively over this trip, needs to be ready to hit the ground running to go toe-to-toe with Mildenberger and guarantee himself a place at next month’s £1 million Finals Day.



Richard Fahey’s colt ran well behind two potentially useful rivals in a Lingfield Park sprint handicap in midweek and would have caused the pair more problems had he not made a mess of the start. That was only his second start for this stable since scoring on debut at Newcastle for Archie Watson and easier opportunities should come his way off a workable mark before the end of the winter season.


It’s interesting that James Tate and Saeed Manana have chosen to persevere with three-year-old filly With Virtue, who showed modest promise last year and ran with credit at Wolverhampton on Monday following a lengthy lay-off. She had undergone wind surgery since finishing third from a less than ideal position at Ripon and stuck well to her task to finish fourth over 6f at Dunstall Park. Her mark of 63 shouldn’t suffer for that and she is entitled to be sharper for the outing.


Brian Ellison is sweet on this scopey daughter of Society Rock who built on a respectable debut over 1m at Newcastle when she re-appeared in novice company over the same course and distance last week. Out of a 7f US dirt winner, she hit the front 2f out only to be worn down in the closing stages. A drop back in trip probably wouldn’t go amiss at this stage of her development.


Ben Haslam’s filly remains on an upward curve after only five starts. She didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs at a crucial stage of a 6f handicap at Newcastle last week but finished well, stepping up in trip following victory over 5f on the same Tapeta surface off a 5lb lower mark. A strong run six is ideal for her and being nudged up another 3lb shouldn’t prove prohibitive.

Surfing The Sand

Wolverhampton 13:35, 7 March 2020

Wolverhampton 14:10, 7 March 2020

Wolverhampton 14:45, 7 March 2020

Chelmsford City 19:30, 7 March 2020

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