Surfing The Sand

All-Weather Championships Season 7 gets underway at Newcastle on Tuesday with the first of 24 Fast Track Qualifiers for the £1 million Finals Day on Good Friday. Our expert Simon Mapletoft examines the key contenders in the 3YO feature and the supporting sprint handicap.

  • Monday 21 October
  • Blog
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DESERT SAFARI sets a demanding standard in the first Fast Track Qualifier of the new All-Weather season, the Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Conditions Stakes (3.45) at Newcastle on Tuesday.

Mark Johnston’s top-rated colt won his first two starts on synthetics before stepping up to Listed company last time, finishing a highly creditable third in the Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy.

He was giving weight to the two higher rated rivals that beat him on Teesside and looks tailor-made for this stiff 6f as he drops back in grade.

All-Weather Championships Season 7 begins at Newcastle live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Tuesday 22nd October.

Hugo Palmer’s Hamish Macbeth posted a big performance to be third in a valuable sales race at The Curragh on Irish Champions’ weekend.

He was doing his best work in the closing stages of that 6.5f contest and will appreciate further in time, so there’s a danger he could be tapped for toe here, particularly if the early pace isn’t strong.

Temple Of Heaven was smart enough to win his first two starts for Richard Hannon in the spring but hasn’t been seen since putting up a below-par performance back at 5f in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. He is rated only 1lb inferior to Desert Safari but has questions to answer on this return from a lay off.

Similarly, Macho Time was defending an unbeaten record when he travelled to Newbury for his nursery debut last month but was a shade disappointing upped to 7f, even though he did have the excuse of being struck into.

Previously, Karl Burke’s good-looking son of Camacho had made a winning debut at Ayr before defying a penalty with plenty to spare over 6f at Redcar.

Burke knows what it takes to win this race, having taken it with Beatbox Rhythm in 2017, but Macho Time is considered a better prospect for next year and must find significant improvement from his mark of 86 to make an impact.

Richard Fahey completes the line-up with Aleneva, who carries the colours of Beatbox Rhythym’s owner John Dance. The only filly in the line-up, she gets weight from her rivals in a race that in many ways looks just as competitive for her as the the Group 3 Fillies’ race she struggled in at Ayr.


He may be at the veteran stage, but David O’Meara’s globetrotting INTISAAB can score an overdue success in the Betway Optional Claiming Handicap (3.10) at Newcastle on Tuesday.

A winner in Qatar and Ireland, and placed in Dubai, he has fallen 8lb in the ratings since his last success in a valuable handicap at The Curragh in 2018 but has proven on several occasions since that he retains much of his old class.

A hold-up performer, Intisaab loves to rattle home off a strong pace, just as he did when almost cutting down potentially smart young rivals Motagally and Power Link over this trip at Wolverhampton last month.

Second over course and distance in the Group 3 Chipchase in 2017, O’Meara’s veteran will be doing all his best work inside the stiff final furlong and the 2lb the assessor has given back to him since that Wolverhampton run can help him get there.

Another admirable eight-year-old looking to recapture the winning thread is David Barron’s Above The Rest, who won the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton back in March but gives weight to all his rivals here, including 7lb to my selection.

Surfing The Sand

Newcastle 15:10, 22 October 2019

Newcastle 15:45, 22 October 2019

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