Surfing The Sand

Our All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft previews the Fast Track Qualifier for the Mile Championship at Dundalk on Friday evening and looks ahead to the feature races at Lingfield Park and Newcastle this weekend. He also has four Eyecatchers for your Tracker.

  • Thursday 10 January
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Jim Bolger’s THEOBALD can clinch his place in the £150,000 Mile Final on Good Friday by winning Dundalk’s Fast Track Qualifier on Friday night - the Become The Face Of BetVictor Race (6.30).

Winner of a course and distance handicap in November, the son of Teofilo is top rated in a modest line-up and probably won’t need to improve on his latest effort at this track to win this for top jockey Kevin Manning from a nice draw in stall two.

The four-year-old was no match for Joseph O’Brien’s useful King’s Field over the same mile a month ago but won’t encounter anything of that calibre here and should prove good enough to guarantee his place at Lingfield Park on 19th April.

The race will be graced by the presence of 2016 Final winner Captain Joy. Now very much at the veteran stage, the 10-year-old makes his first appearance since returning from a lay-off with a below-par display over course and distance in early December. He has a better chance than most at the weights but needs to recapture the form of his win in this race last year.


Michael Wigham’s track specialist MY TARGET gave notice of a return to winning ways at Newcastle last time and can gain a sixth course and distance success in Lingfield Park’s feature race on Saturday, the Sun Racing Top Tips And Previews Handicap (2.35).

The eight-year-old beat all but the well backed Trevithick in a warm race on the Tapeta and resumes off the same mark on a track that perfectly suits his power-packed finishing style.

My Target is 15lb lower than when notching his previous course and distance handicap win in March 2017 and the in-form Wigham combined with Saturday’s jockey John Egan to win a Lingfield handicap with Deeds Not Words in midweek.

Taking him on is Linda Jewell’s admirable veteran Breden, who has been rejuvenated on the All-Weather this winter and resumes only 2lb higher than when taking a decent prize over 1m at Chelmsford before Christmas.

However, he must give My Target 9lb on a track that might not play to his strengths in quite the same way. He got going all too late on his only previous visit, though he didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs, and his record suggests he might just be at his best with a longer straight ahead of him.


DESERT DOCTOR looks primed for a big run in the Betway Handicap (1.25) at Lingfield Park on Saturday - a race that could set him up for a crack at the £150,000 Sprint Final over the same 6f on Good Friday.

A course and distance winner who was beaten little more than two lengths in last season’s 3YO Final, Ed Walker’s four-year-old returned from a lengthy break to chase home the useful El Hombre at Wolverhampton last time.

He was understandably a little fresh that day so should be spot on for this test and can confirm that form with subsequent winner Merhoob and Reflektor off a mark 2lb lower than the one he won a handicap off in March.

The former has won three of his four starts at this track and is entitled to acquit himself well for in-form handler John Ryan, having been raised only 2lb, but Desert Doctor is weighted to beat them all and is ideally berthed to stalk the pace in stall two.


David O’Meara has taken his time with BALLARD DOWN who can make a winning stable debut in the Follow Sunracing on Twitter Handicap (5.30) at Newcastle on Saturday.

Bought out of William Knight’s yard for 21,000 gns at last year’s July Sales, he represents owners who have done well with similar recruits So Beloved and Lincoln winner Bravery in recent years.

Ballard Down is the mount of hot young jockey Callum Rodriguez, who boasts a 45 per cent strike rate in the past two weeks and a 22 per cent return at this track.

O’Meara’s six-year-old was a useful performer in 2017, winning a Wolverhampton handicap and a valuable race at Newmarket.

His form tailed off in a limited campaign last year but O’Meara has built his reputation with this type of horse and the son of Canford Cliffs resumes on a winnable mark against four rivals who all have questions to answer.

The obvious danger is Marco Botti’s ex-Italian winner Azzeccagarbugli, who hinted at better things under prominent tactics when just collared at Chelmsford off a 1lb lower mark last time. He swerves a Lingfield engagement to head to the North East but may prove vulnerable if he attempts to dictate the tempo again here.



This son of Sea The Stars from the family of Group 1 winner Rebecca Sharp made a pleasing, belated debut for William Haggas over 1m at Newcastle on Tuesday. He overcame a slow start to loom into contention alongside hot favourite Set Piece and looked like making a race of it until getting out-pointed inside the final furlong. With natural improvement, a similar race is certainly at his mercy on that evidence.


David Barron’s well built gelding has a bright future if his Newcastle debut is anything to go by. A £65,000 yearling from the family of Group 3 winning sprinter Hamza, he closed down previous winner Lorna Cole and the more experienced Kyllachy Warrior to be beaten only half a length and a neck under PJ McDonald on Tuesday. He is worth persevering with over 5f for now but will probably come into his own over 6f in due course.


Andrew Balding’s colt - the son of a smart 1m3f winner - relished the step up in trip at Newcastle last Sunday, having shown definite promise over an inadequate 7f on his debut. Graham Lee dictated the tempo in a 1m2f novice stakes only to be edged out by the fancied Godolphin newcomer One Vision. Gosforth Park’s stiff track is perfect for this resolute galloper who will appreciate longer trips in time.


Marco Botti’s well bred filly stepped up in trip to 9.5f for her handicap debut at Wolverhampton on Monday and very nearly pulled it off. She set sail for home off the turn, only to be collared late by Richard Hannon’s favourite Hermocrates. She can win something similar off her modest mark of 66.

Surfing The Sand

Dundalk 18:30, 11 January 2019

Lingfield 13:25, 12 January 2019

Lingfield 14:35, 12 January 2019

Newcastle 17:30, 12 January 2019

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