Surfing The Sand

All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft previews a strong renewal of the Listed Quebec Stakes at Lingfield Park on Saturday and has fancies for the two supporting feature handicaps. He also reveals four more Eyecatchers for your Tracker.

  • Friday 18 December
  • Blog
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WARRIOR TO SLAY SMART RIVALS IN RED HOT QUEBEC

Middle Distance star DUBAI WARRIOR can overcome his toughest task so far when he re-appears in the Listed 10f Betway Quebec Stakes (2.00) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.

John Gosden’s Group 3 Winter Derby winner returned to action with an emphatic success in the Listed Churchill Stakes over course and distance last month – a Fast Track Qualifier for the Easter Classic on Good Friday.

But for the first time he faces several rivals with serious credentials of their own, including the prolific Johnny Drama, who completed his fourth consecutive victory on sand in the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton Park last time.

Also taking him on is Sir Michael Stoute’s intriguing All-Weather debutant Sangarius, the mount of Ryan Moore and a Group 3 winner in his own right. And adding festive spice is Johnny Drama’s enigmatic stable companion Bangkok – third to Dubai Warrior in last season’s Winter Derby but an explosive winner of the Listed Trial over Lingfield’s 10f in February when he shattered the track record.

Bangkok shares top rating with Dubai Warrior (114), who carries 3lb more for winning in Listed grade last time. However, despite his undoubted talent, there is little evidence to suggest Andrew Balding’s star will avenge that Winter Derby defeat. A keen sort, Bangkok found himself in rather deep when unplaced in last month’s Bahrain International Trophy but still needs to bring his A-game to play a part on Saturday.

Johnny Drama has progressed 17lb since the beginning of November, winning three times at Kempton and once on the Southwell Fibresand. Like Dubai Warrior, he is a big, powerful type but has questions to answer.

Firstly, he must prove his aptitude for a drop in trip on such a sharp track and, because of his own Listed penalty, has 7lb to find with Dubai Warrior. The five-year-old has also shown a tendency to idle in front, but is unlikely to get away with that trait around here.

That brings me back to Sangarius, who has won three of his six starts and could still have his best days ahead of him. He oozed class when winning last year’s Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot but wasn’t see again for almost a year when looking in need of the run in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Haydock in June.

The son of Kingman is bang there on ratings (113) but lacks experience on turning tracks and has tended to need his re-appearance runs. He returns from a another lengthy lay-off following a wind operation, so could be found wanting at the business end of the race.

Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin gelding King’s Command, a Group 3 winner on turf in France last year, is a confirmed front-runner who steps onto the All-Weather for the first time. With a rating of 107, and a 2lb weight-for-age allowance, the three-year-old is clearly worthy of his place in this line-up but will have to conjure a clear career-best to fend off his illustrious rivals.

Palavecino, who has run respectably in Listed company at Kempton and behind Dubai Warrior in the Churchill, is another who enjoys being on the front end and can be relied upon to help keep the tempo strong and even.

Another who brings a smart CV to the table in a deep race is the giant Almodovar, who was second in the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan in 2018 and clearly blew up on his return from a 906-day absence in a 1m Listed race at Kempton last month. Stepping back up in trip will suit him and he may be the dark horse.

PREMIER TO POWER HOME IN LINGFIELD SPRINT

Sprint Final prospect PREMIER POWER can get back to winning ways in the Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap (1.25)at Lingfield Park on Saturday.

Roger Varian’s talented three-year-old is out to set the record straight after being headed at the post on his handicap debut at Kempton Park last time.

Impressive in a course and distance novice stakes prior to that, he was far too keen for his own good when the re-opposing Brian The Snail made him pay in the shadow of the post. Now 1lb better off with Richard Fahey’s grey, Premier Power can stamp his class in this early Sprint Final dress rehearsal.

Brian The Snail’s winning form has been achieved on more galloping tracks so a greater threat may well be posed by Keith Dalgleish’s Aberama Gold – back on track after winning a Listed race at York as a juvenile and impressive enough in Class 2 company at Chelmsford City last time to suggest he will hold his own off a 3lb higher mark.

HAT-TRICK BECKONS FOR HAGGAS STAYER

William Haggas holds the key to the 12f Betway Handicap (2.35) at Lingfield Park on Saturday with the highly progressive AL ZARAQAAN.

This lightly raced three-year-old returned from a 10f novice success at Doncaster in the summer with a decisive follow-up over an additional furlong at Kempton Park at the end of November.

He was heavily backed to defy his penalty that day and looks well placed for this step up in trip under Tom Marquand. In fact, Al Zaraqaan also receives a 4lb weight for age allowance which should also help him get the better of key rivalsSoghan, Furzig and Pirate King.

The former, who has been running well over 2m, wears cheekpieces for the first time for this sharp drop in trip. Even though he’s a course and distance winner, a greater test of stamina appears to suit him best these days.

Furzig stayed on well from too far back over 10f at Lingfield last time and is well worth a return to this trip off an unchanged mark while Pirate King will have benefitted from his comeback run at Kempton, even though he remains 8lb higher than when last successful.

EYECATCHERS

LEISUREWEAR

The first leg of Wednesday’s fillies’ novice stakes at Lingfield Park promises to throw up a clutch of winners including Martyn Meade’s Leisurewear, who really finished well once the penny had dropped on her racecourse debut. This daughter of Kodiac was beaten six lengths into sixth but had a nice introduction and can build on this in due course, may be even up to 1m.


NEZAR

Dean Ivory’s string has been struggling to find top form but veteran Nezar looked well in the preliminaries at Wolverhampton on Tuesday and travelled ominously well to be a close third in a 7f handicap. He was racing off a 6lb lower mark than when successful at the track in January and can pick up another handicap soon. His run may also be a sign that Ivory’s team is on the way back.


THE CRUISING LORD

Michael Attwater’s gelding served notice that he is ready to win again when going down by a frustrating nose to Iconic Knight in a 6f Wolverhampton handicap last weekend. Despite a 2lb rise, this sprinter remains well handicapped on his old form, which includes a Listed second off a 17lb higher mark only last summer. He possesses a strong cruising speed, as his name suggests, and remains unexposed on synthetics.


BIG KITTY

Picked up cheaply at the February Sales, Michael Bell’s US bred filly made a debut full of promise in an extended 1m fillies’ novice stakes at Wolverhampton on Tuesday. Travelling prominently, she was readily brushed aside by the winner Lady Percival but was comfortably ahead of third placed favourite River Chorus, who set the benchmark with a rating of 73. She can win something similar.

HOT TOPICS

An early clue for Good Friday’s Marathon Final could be available at Newcastle on Monday when Mark Johnston’s progressive young stayer Rochester House is set to re-appear in the opening extended 2m handicap. He looked smart when supplementing his Ascot win over the Final trip at Lingfield Park last time and can defy a generous 1lb rise. Indeed, victory at Gosforth Park would put him in the frame for a Fast Track Qualifier in the New Year.

Rob Hornby thought he had escaped unhurt from a crashing fall at Wolverhampton last week but it subsequently transpired that he had suffered shoulder damage. The talented young rider, who has enjoyed his best ever season with 79 winners, must now undergo an operation on 4th January but hopes to be back in the saddle a few weeks later.

Like a Test batsman picking at his shots on a nervous 99, jockey Jack Mitchell went into Friday’s action needing just one more winner to complete a maiden century. Mitchell had five scheduled rides to achieve the feat after going down by a short-head at Kempton Park on Monday – his 17th ride without a winner. The stylish Mitchell has caught the eye this year and also needs just one more winner to reach 100 at Wolverhampton.

Trainer Tony Carroll’s treble at Lingfield Park last Sunday put him within striking distance of the top of the trainers’ table. At the time of writing, he had drawn level with John Gosden and was only two behind leader and reigning champion Mick Appleby. Carroll, who has been operating at a strike rate of 18 per cent, is certainly the punters’ friend with a level stakes profit of over 42 points.

Surfing The Sand

Lingfield 13:25, 19 December 2020

Lingfield 14:00, 19 December 2020

Lingfield 14:35, 19 December 2020

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