Surfing The Sand

The most prestigious race of the All-Weather Season, the Group 3 Betway Winter Derby, tops the bill on an exciting card at Lingfield Park on Saturday. Our All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft will be there for Sky Sports Racing and previews the best of the action.

  • Thursday 20 February
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Tyson Fury’s showdown with Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas isn’t the only eagerly-awaited heavyweight clash this weekend. BANGKOK and Dubai Warrior go head to head in the Group 3 Betway Winter Derby (3.15) at Lingfield Park on Saturday and it’s the former who can land a knock-out blow.

Andrew Balding’s star looked a natural at this venue when he shattered the 10f track record in the Listed Winter Derby Trial three weeks ago but in Dubai Warrior faces an opponent who can pack a much bigger punch than the rivals he faced that day.

A reproduction of that run ought to be enough to see Bangkok home, but John Gosden’s imposing colt also made a favourable impression over this course and distance when he dominated the Listed Quebec Stakes in December.

The son of Dansili coped well with the sharp turns and the downhill run for such a big horse but looks in need of a smarter stopwatch performance to beat his market rival, who is 4lb better off at the weights, according to official ratings.

Dubai Warrior’s stable companion Court House has finished second to both horses this season and filled the same position in last year’s renewal behind another stable companion, Wissahickon. 

This front runner should again guarantee a good even pace for the principals to charge at in the final Fast Track Qualifier in the Middle Distance category. Bangkok has already guaranteed his place in the £200,000 Easter Classic with success in the Trial, but Dubai Warrior needs to win this to be sure of his place in the Good Friday showpiece.


Ismail Mohammed’s powerhouse GOOD EFFORT can complete a notable hat-trick in the Betway Hever Sprint Stakes (2.05) at Lingfield Park on Saturday.

The imposing five-year-old ran away with the Listed Cleves Stakes over 6f at the Surrey track three weeks ago - his second consecutive Fast Track Qualifier victory after dominating at Newcastle early in the New Year.

Ben Curtis, who had been on board for both successes, tells me he expects the trailblazing entire to be just as affective back over the minimum trip, and I certainly agree. He comfortably broke 11 secs in two consecutive furlongs in the Cleves and, even with a 3lb penalty for that win, remains favourably treated against opposition with plenty to prove.

Drawn to attack in stall one, Good Effort’s strongest opponent could be David O’Meara’s admirable veteran Watchable, who is the second highest rated runner behind my selection and is proven at the track.

He tuned up with a welcome return to top form in a Class 2 handicap at Wolverhampton last time as showed last year that he retains all his old dash when breaking the 5f Track record at Epsom - and beating Good Effort at Newcastle. However, that was in a handicap, when he was getting 5lb from a rival who has since taken his form to a new level and is better off with Watchable on these terms.

Karl Burke’s improving filly Hareem Queen, who is a few pounds better off at the weights for a length defeat in that Newcastle qualifier, is another interesting contender. She has since won again on the Southwell Fibresand but has never raced around a bend so whether she can be as effective on a much sharper track, and markedly up in class, is debatable.


The stars aligned for ALMUFTI at Lingfield Park last time but he has been well placed to follow up in the Bombardier ‘March To Your Own Drum’ Handicap (3.50) over the same course and distance on Saturday.

Hugo Palmer’s gelding enjoyed a charmed passage against the far rail to get first run on favourite Silent Attack but will be tough to deny off a 4lb higher mark here. He defends an unbeaten record in two starts over the Lingfield mile and receives a whopping 17lb from the respected Habub, who is there to be shot at conceding so much weight to proven handicappers.

Connections appear keen to get him to the Mile Final on Good Friday but need two more runs to meet the qualifying criteria and are running out of options with only one more Fast Track race - the Listed Wulfruna Stakes over 7f at Wolverhampton - available to them.

Habub was always going to find 6f in the Listed Cleves Stakes too sharp last time but should put up a bold show over this trip and will at least take a step closer to Final qualification even if he gives best to the improving Almufti.



This gelding was having his first run since last April when getting within a neck of the winner in a 7f handicap at Newcastle last Saturday. Now with Michael Dods, after beginning his career with Ed Dunlop, he built on the promise of a solid run at Redcar last year and proved - not for the first time - that he is well suited by this stiff track. He is one to keep on your side despite a 3lb rise.


The Gredley family’s daughter of Golden Horn isn’t the biggest but made a pleasing racecourse debut for Richard Fahey at Newcastle last weekend, finishing with a flourish in a 1m novice stakes won by the more experienced Salsada. Her dam won over 1m2f, and the way she ate up ground on this stiff track suggests she, too, will be effective over further in due course.


Keith Dalgleish’s three-year-old is modest at best, but proved he can win races when returning from a lengthy lay-off to finish a hard-fought second in a low-grade classified event at Southwell on Tuesday. Gelded since his last run, and sporting blinkers, he made the best of his way home only to be caught in the closing stages. However, he could be set for quick compensation when he re-appears in a similar race over a furlong shorter at Wolverhampton on Friday night.


Richard Fahey’s gelding has run well in the face of two tough tests since missing last year through injury and can confirm the promise of both runs if he can be found an opportunity in calmer waters next time. He tried to weave his way through a big field from a poor starting position in a £45,000 handicap at Newcastle in midweek and finished on the bridle after being short of room. He could easily get a pound or two back from the assessor and would be of considerable interest in 0-85 company next time.

Surfing The Sand

Lingfield 15:15, 22 February 2020

Lingfield 15:50, 22 February 2020

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