Surfing The Sand

Our All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft previews the feature handicaps at Lingfield and Wolverhampton on Saturday and reveals the latest batch of horses to catch his eye.

  • Thursday 06 February
  • Blog
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Tony Carroll can maintain his rampant start to 2020 when Good Friday contender SILENT ATTACK puts his credentials on the line in the Bombardier ‘March To Your Own Drum’ Handicap (2.20) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.

The red hot Worcestershire trainer has moved into second place in the trainers’ championship behind title holder Mick Appleby with a strike rate of almost 20 per cent since the turn of the year.

His Godolphin cast-off looked a genuine Mile Final prospect when beating that solid yardstick Goring in a 1m handicap at Lingfield last time and can further enhance his claims off just a 3lb higher mark.

Silent Attack, who again has the assistance of top jockey Ben Curtis, hinted that victory was on the cards when giving over a stone in defeat to subsequent winner Reeves and finishing ahead of the smart Fox Power in two starts at Chelmsford City before Christmas.

Now rated 102, he as the ability to travel strongly but also proved his tactical versatility when pouncing off a modest pace last month and can take the measure of key rivals who have little in hand off their current marks.

Kuwait Currency, the mount of the globetrotting former champion Silvestre De Sousa, has been running well in defeat over this trip and 10f at Lingfield this winter but looks high enough in the weights judged by his defeat behind Goring on similar terms over course and distance last time.

A similar comment applies to the consistent Corazon Espinado, who got the better of a non-staying favourite over this mile last time but will need to find more from this slightly higher mark.

Spirit Warning progressed well on sand and turf for Andrew Balding last year but though he is back on his last winning mark, he will need to raise his game again to take some fair scalps on his return from a lengthy absence.

***Check out my stable tour with Tony Carroll here.***


WILL TO WIN can give weight and a beating to his rivals in the competitive Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Handicap (3.30) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.

Simon Crisford’s gelding - a powerful traveller with a telling gear change - has made a favourable impression on the All-Weather, winning on three different surfaces at Wolverhampton, Southwell and over this course and distance.

The way he pulled clear of an in-form rival on the Fibresand last time suggests he could easily be ahead of a 6lb higher mark on his return to the Surrey venue in a race that will test his prospects of reaching the 3YO Final come Easter.

Electric Ladyland should keep the fractions honest out in front which will play to the strengths of this attractive son of Showcasing.

Charlie Appleby’s Expressionist and Joseph O’Brien’s Never Before make this handicap a fascinating puzzle. The former hasn’t been seen since finding the company too hot in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes and a Listed race at Sandown last summer and doesn’t exactly look thrown in off 89 on his handicap debut.

Never Before stretched out well to win over 7f at Dundalk last time but will find this shorter trip on a much sharper track a very different test and might just be doing his best work a little too late.

Dazzling Des posted an improved performance to win over course and distance last month and should give another good account off this 4lb higher mark but lacks the potential of Will To Win at this stage.


Stuart Williams has found a good opportunity for his admirable sprinter ROYAL BIRTH to gain his first win of the winter season on Saturday night.

He is back on the same mark he won off at Chelmsford City in September and is the one they all have to beat in the Class 2 Betway Handicap (7.30) over the flying 5f at Wolverhampton.

The nine-year-old finished well to get within a neck of subsequent Listed winner Good Effort in a Fast Track Qualifier at Newcastle last month after finding only the progressive Lomu too good at the weights over this course and distance before Christmas.

Acclaim The Nation, who was behind Royal Birth that day, should give him something to aim at and I prefer him to fellow veteran Watchable, whose formed has dipped of late, and Canford Bay who runs this track well but takes a steep step up in class.



Richard Hannon’s classy grey has had his share of injury problems but gave notice that he is as good as ever when beating all but the race fit Via Serendipity in a hot conditions race at Wolverhampton on Monday. He had 6lb to find with the winner, as well as conceding a 3lb penalty for last year’s Listed win at Newcastle, so this rates a very smart effort. He could yet have a part to play in the Mile Final on Good Friday and is also in next month’s Lincoln.


This front-running sprinter has become undeniably well-handicapped and can build on the promise of his third over 6f at Lingfield Park last weekend. Tom Dascombe’s speedball has been eased 12lb since winning over 6f at Wolverhampton last March and stuck on with credit after being headed in a steadily run race on the Polytrack. He could prove tough to peg back in similar grade next time - if he’s drawn to dominate.


Iain Jardine’s colt has improved with every run and gave the odds-on favourite a scare over 1m in novice company at Newcastle last week. This son of Havana Gold picked up strongly inside the final furlong to get within a neck of Godolphin’s Al Maysan and can be placed to exploit a reasonable opening handicap mark of 77. A half-brother to classy dual-purpose performer Penhill, he is bred to get further in due course but 1m looks ideal for now.


It appears that David Elsworth’s mare is still improving after taking her form to a new level in the Listed Cleves Stakes over 6f at Lingfield Park last Saturday. She did well to run on strongly for third, considering she didn’t get a particularly strong pace to be produced off. She may struggle to make the cut for the Sprint Final but would be an interesting contender for the potentially weaker Fillies’ and Mares’ equivalent over 7f. Her only previous try at that distance at York last summer was inconclusive, when she finished mid-division under a welter burden of 10st.

Surfing The Sand

Lingfield 14:20, 8 February 2020

Lingfield 15:30, 8 February 2020

Wolverhampton 19:30, 8 February 2020

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