Surfing The Sand

Our All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft reveals his selections for the two feature handicaps at Lingfield Park on Saturday and has four more eyecatchers for your ATR Tracker.

  • Friday 08 January
  • Blog
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The consistent CARDANO can gain compensation for two solid efforts in defeat on Tapeta when he returns to action in the Class 2 Betway Handicap (2.15) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.  

Ian Williams’s gelding only just failed to repel his improving victor in a 12.5f handicap at Newcastle last month but could prove hard to catch over a slightly shorter trip on this easier track.  

Cardano has been elevated 4lb for his defeat by My Seven at Gosforth Park but remains only 3lb higher than when scoring over 10f at Newmarket in 2019.  

Williams also runs the improving Autumn War, who heads to Lingfield on the back of two consecutive wins over 1m6f at Wolverhampton but may find things happening a little too quickly on this step back in distance.  

Heading the weights is Richard Hannon’s Raymond Tusk, who hasn’t regained his old sparkle since returning from an injury set-back. Connections reach for the first-time blinkers but there’s a suspicion that he, too, might find this test on the sharp side.  


Champion trainer Mick Appleby’s decision to step UNITED FRONT up in trip can pay dividends in the Class 3 betyourway at Betway Handicap (1.05) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.  

Bought out of Aidan O’Brien’s powerful yard at the autumn sales for just 18,000 gns, this well-bred colt made a pleasing start at Chelmsford City a month ago when he ran on well to take second in a 0-105 handicap over 1m.  

He was no match for the progressive Count Of Amazonia but the way he finished his race off this mark suggests he will relish Lingfield’s sharp 10f. United Front doesn’t lack gears – he won a 6f maiden at Dundalk for O’Brien – but is out of a Group-placed daughter of Galileo who stayed 12f.  

Simon and Ed Crisford’s filly Make It Rain is clearly the one to beat. She came out on top against some battle-hardened performers in a messy race over 9.5f at Wolverhampton on Boxing Day to take her All-Weather record to an impressive four from five.  

A course and distance winner, victory here would put her on the cusp of a probable crack at the Listed Middle-Distance races including the Winter Derby, but first she must give 9lb and a beating to the unexposed United Front.



Mark Johnston’s daughter of The Gurkha sprouted wings to finish within a head of the winner in a 7f fillies’ novice stakes at Wolverhampton on Monday – her racecourse debut. Related to All-Weather winners Baileys Jubilee, Election Day and Baileys Strider, she will be wiser next time and might be ready for a step up to 1m.  


Stuart Williams understandably thought Album would relish the Southwell Fibresand after seeing him win in heavy ground at Windsor in October, but he didn’t handle the deep surface. However, he proved a revelation on his tapeta debut in a 6f handicap at Wolverhampton on Monday, scooting clear of warm favourite Inevitable Outcome under Richard Kingscote.

He may now head to Lingfield on Tuesday under a penalty and has the speed to follow up over the minimum trip.  


Proven All-Weather exponent Derek Shaw has emerged from a lengthy spell in the wilderness and could be a trainer to follow in the coming weeks. Formerly with Ed Dunlop, he looks likely to score with this lightly raced four-year-old, who travelled sweetly under hot apprentice Laura Pearson in a 1m handicap at Southwell on New Year’s day, only to find well handicapped course and distance winner Maykir too good.

He must be of intertest in a 7f handicap at Southwell on Friday and holds another entry on the Fibresand on Sunday.  


This filly looks a slow burner but clearly possesses the ability to win a little handicap in due course. Trained by Richard Fahey, she improved upon her debut to finish on the heels of the principals in a 5f novice stakes at Wolverhampton on Tuesday despite forfeiting ground at the start.

Chillsea is out of that smart filly Sandiva, who was a Group 3 winner for Fahey before making her mark in Graded races Stateside.  


Amniarix won Monday’s Fast-Track Qualifier for the Fillies’ and Mares’ Final in taking style at Wolverhampton (advised here at 7-4) but is unlikely to claim here place at Lingfield Park on Good Friday. Trainer Ed Walker reveals he is targeting the Listed Snowdrop Stakes over 1m at Kempton Park in the spring instead with the progressive chestnut, who produced a killer turn of foot under championship leader Richard Kingscote.  

Former champion All-Weather trainer Nick Littmoden turned back the clock with a double at Lingfield on Monday and another winner at Wolverhampton on Wednesday. Littmoden, who dominated the sand scene in the early Noughties, principally with leading owner Nigel Shields, took the 2m handicap with Figeac and followed up with Arabescato over 10f before Fleur Irlandaise scored at Dunstall Park.

The Newmarket trainer enjoyed great success in his heyday with the likes of Cretan Gift, JMW Turner and Peruvian Chief.  

Young apprentice Marco Ghiani has made an explosive start to 2021, riding a double on New Year’s Day at Southwell. Another double at Lingfield on Tuesday took his tally to seven wins from 10 rides at that stage - a staggering strike rate of 70 per cent.

However, the Italian, who claims 5lb and is based in Newmarket with trainer Stuart Williams, now faces a 20-day suspension after being stood down by a BHA disciplinary panel on Thursday following a series of riding infringements – the latest at Wolverhampton last month.  

Another claimer in the news on Sunday was Connor Murtagh, who was sidelined last year by a broken back but gave Crownthorpe a super ride to win the feature race at Southwell for his boss Richard Fahey to get off the mark for the year. Murtagh, who has linked up with agent and former jockey Wilson Renwick, puts his successful rehabilitation down to the help he received from Jack Berry House in Malton.  

Southwell Racecourse-based trainer Scott Dixon also celebrated the New Year with a winner when Samovar ended a losing run of 21 races in a 5f handicap on the Fibresand and that stable stalwart provided the second leg of a treble at his home track on Thursday. Life is certainly good for Dixon right now - he and wife Rebecca also celebrated the arrival of their second child, daughter Matilda, on Boxing Day.

Surfing The Sand

Lingfield 13:05, 9 January 2021

Lingfield 14:15, 9 January 2021

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