Surfing The Sand

All-Weather Championships Season 6 returns to the spotlight this weekend with Fast Track Qualifiers for the £1 million Finals Day on Good Friday at Kempton Park and in Cagnes-Sur-Mer in France. Simon Mapletoft previews both feature races and has a fancy for a cracking sprint handicap at Lingfield Park.

  • Thursday 14 February
  • Blog
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GREY BRITAIN can propel himself among the favourites for the £150,000 Marathon Final at Lingfield Park on Good Friday by winning the 32Red Conditions Stakes (7.15) at Kempton Park on Saturday - a Fast Track Qualifier for the big 2m race.

John Ryan’s gelding has improved with every run this winter, proving himself over this trip at Lingfield last month in a strong trial. He comfortably accounted for that wonderful old yardstick Watersmeet - twice placed in the Final - as well as Newcastle Fast Track winner Stargazer and last year’s Championship runner-up Lord George.

Watersmeet looks held on identical terms here and has to prove, despite some creditable efforts in defeat, that he is still the force he was 12 months ago.

A bigger threat may be Brian Meehan’s Spark Plug, who stepped up to 1m4f to win the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at the Sunbury circuit in December. Whilst he gives the impression he will stay 2m, he is venturing into uncharted waters and must concede a 3lb penalty for his black type success.

Redicean also arrives at Kempton with something to prove after putting in a below-par effort over 1m4f at Lingfield last time - a trip he had won over in both previous outings. A winning hurdler, he should have the stamina to cope with this greater test but has 9lb to find with my selection.

The 2017 Northumberland Plate hero Higher Power is entitled to go well on these terms if he can recapture his best form, but has come up short so far this winter and looks held by Grey Britain on a line through his Newcastle conqueror Stargazer.


Top international jockey Olivier Peslier could be gracing Lingfield Park with his considerable presence on Good Friday if the promising BAYOUN wins France’s latest Fast Track Qualifier, the Listed Prix Saonois at Cagnes-Sur-Mer on Saturday.

Thierry Lemer’s gelding has won three of his four starts so far - all on turf - including valuable handicaps at Longchamp in the autumn and can maintain his progress in this 52,000 euro 1m feature on the Polytrack.

He is slightly better off on these terms with Miracle Des Aigles, who was only a neck behind him over 7f in November but is considerably more exposed and has continuously come up short at Listed level.

Kihavahfushi, a son of Wootton Basset from a top stable, has progressed well in a handful of runs and his win in a 7.5f handicap on Polytrack at Chantilly before Christmas is something to build on, though this represents his sternest test so far.

Reigning champion Lucky Team sprung a shock when he rattled home to win last season’s Mile Final but hasn’t come close to repeating that level of form since. Joe Boisnard’s gelding finished just in front of Miracle Des Aigles when the pair was unplaced in a Listed event at Deauville in December.

Another contender is German raider Palace Prince, who brings a strong CV into the race having won several Pattern prizes in his homeland including the Group 2 Badener Meile at Baden-Baden in May 2017. Jean-Pierre Carvalho’s seven-year-old entire didn’t fire in a Listed race over 10f at this track last weekend, however, and must carry a 3lb penalty.


John Ryan’s sprinter MERHOOB was primed to go well in a similar sprint handicap at Chelmsford City last week until the Equine Flu outbreak put paid to the fixture, but compensation awaits in the Betway Handicap (2.40) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.

John Ryan’s runner is proven on this track, having won over the same 6f trip three starts ago, and has the ability to supplement that off a favourable mark.

Darragh Keenan’s 5lb claim effectively puts him on a 2lb lower mark than he won off before posting two more solid efforts in defeat at Lingfield and then Newcastle, where he ran as well as could be expected in the face of a tough task in a Fast Track Qualifier.

There isn’t much between Merhoob and Alsvinder on this winter’s course form and the former must be respected under regular rider Adam Kirby, but he isn’t predictable and needs to bounce back from a poor show behind Desert Doctor at Chelmsford.

Ed Walker’s Desert Doctor has been raised just 3lb for last month’s win, and champion jockey Luke Morris, who won on Merhoob at Lingfield, keeps this winning partnership intact.

The four-year-old seems sure to give another good account but Merhoob gives me the impression he possesses a more potent finish and can take advantage of Keenan’s claim on a track that plays to his strengths.

Surfing The Sand

Lingfield 14:40, 16 February 2019

Kempton 19:15, 16 February 2019

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