Surfing The Sand

With All-Weather Championships Season 8 well and truly underway, Simon Mapletoft looks ahead to some competitive action at Newcastle, Wolverhampton and Kempton Park, and reveals four performers who have caught his eye on the sand tracks in the past week.

  • Thursday 29 October
  • Blog
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WILD HOPE can secure a first All-Weather success in the Bombardier British-Hopped Amber Beer Handicap (6.15) over 1m at Newcastle on Friday.  

Kevin Ryan’s four-year-old has posted two strong performances on the Gosforth Park Tapeta already, only just failing to hold off impressive subsequent winner La Rav before rattling home from off the pace two weeks ago.  

The Kingman gelding probably found himself a little too far back in a muddling race when the tempo lifted last time, but was still only beaten a head and a neck by the re-opposing Don't Tell Claire.  

Wild Hope is 2lb better off with the Kubler filly this time and is capable of turning the tables in a race that may well revolve around the pair, though Ollie Pears will be entitled to expect a bold show from his dual Southwell winner Mosakhar, who has form at this track and should strip fitter for his Newmarket run last month.  


Kempton Park winner DARK COMPANY has one negative to overcome in the Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Nursery Handicap (4.30) at Wolverhampton on Saturday, but can still provide the answer to a tricky puzzle in the night’s top race.  

Mark Johnston’s runner has the worst of the draw in stall 10 – a concern for a horse who likes to be at the sharp end - but showed good early speed on the Polytrack to dominate a 7f novice last time.  

I was impressed by the way he repelled his challengers to score a comfortable victory on only his second career start and the son of Fast Company can prove tough to repel if Franny Norton can get the run of the race from his wide gate.  

Sir Michael Stoute’s Aerion Power will have his supporters with champion jockey Oisin Murphy in the plate, but lacked a gear change over this trip at Newbury, so there’s a definite danger he might find this test just too sharp.  


James Fanshawe’s filly KIRSTENBOSCH merits closer scrutiny among the entries for Monday’s feature race at Kempton Park, the Listed Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day Floodlit Stakes (4.35).  

She ran on gamely in the face of a hopeless task behind the great Enable in the September Stakes over course and distance last time and can gain a valuable Black Type success for her owners Fittocks Stud.  

Lightly raced and open to improvement off a mark of 104, she is set to get a significant weight allowance from some illustrious opponents who, despite their CV’s, will arrive at the Sunbury track with something to prove.  

Godolphin’s Loxley, who took the scalp of the ill-fated Defoe in the Dubai City of Gold at Meydan in March, looked a difficult ride on his belated re-appearance at this level last month, finishing a distant last after racing far too freely.  

Raymond Tusk, injured since taking a Fast Track Qualifier at Newcastle last season, looked in desperate need of his first start since January when tailing off in Group 3 company at Newbury last weekend.  

Also out the back in that race was Andrew Balding’s five-year-old Alounak, who hasn’t ever looked like replicating his second in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot back in the summer and may struggle to justify top rating.  


With Ralph Beckett in such good form, VICTORY CHIME will hold a compelling chance if he stands his ground in the Try Our New Super Boosts At Unibet Handicap (5.05) at Kempton Park on Monday.  

This forward-going five-year-old has a course and distance win to his name and is progressing well enough this autumn to defy a 6lb rise for a front-running win at Pontefract last month.  

The likely presence of Mark Johnston’s Sky Defender should help to ensure a good end-to-end gallop which should bring Victory Chime’s stamina to the fore.


Ask The Wind  

Tony Carroll is always a trainer to follow on the All-Weather and should be picking up a nursery soon with this filly, who was perhaps unlucky not to get off the mark in a 7f handicap at Newcastle on Monday. A small but athletic daughter of Zoffany, she had to be switched not once but twice at a crucial stage of the race before flying home and getting within a neck of previous winner Imperial Butterfly at the post.  

Movin Time  

A novice event looks a formality for Roger Varian’s Movin Time after he posted a striking debut over 1m at Newcastle this week. Despite his coltish behaviour in the parade ring and greenness throughout the race, this 170,000gns son of Fastnet Rock finished best of all behind Godolphin’s winner Rebel’s Romance to be held by just a length in second.  


Jamie Osborne’s filly endured a nightmare trip in a 10f nursery at Chelmsford City last week, but bucked the trend at this front-runners’ track by eating up ground on the leaders from the back of the field up the home stretch. She was positively flying at the death, finishing fifth, and can make amends in similar grade – particularly if she’s ridden further forward.  

Kind Review  

Tracy Waggott’s sprinter impressed me when powering home in a 6f handicap at Newcastle in early October and took another step forward in defeat there on Monday evening. There was always a chance the drop back to 6f might prove too sharp, and sure enough he was doing all his best work in the final furlong, running on to be third. It’s not beyond question that he could win at the minimum trip, but a return to six looks on the cards for a gelding who clearly has more to offer.  


How fitting that Newmarket trainer Ed Vaughan’s final runner before relinquishing his licence became a winner for two All-Weather stalwarts at Kempton Park on Wednesday. Hackness Harry carried the colours of Alan Pickering to land the 6f nursery in the hands of former champion All-Weather jockey Luke Morris, evoking memories of All-Weather star Robin Hood’s Bay.

The gelding, trained so skilfully by Vaughan, won the Winter Derby for Pickering and Morris in 2014 before finishing third to Grandeur in the inaugural All-Weather Championships Easter Classic.  

It was exciting for Southwell to take centre stage on Tuesday when Champion jockey Oisin Murphy reached such a special landmark on the Fibresand surface. His victory on the Michael Dods-trained Perfect Sign was his 1,000th domestic winner - some achievement by a young man who also enjoyed the recognition of riding the first ever Group 1 winner on an artificial surface in the UK when Kameko took last season’s Vertem Futurity Trophy at Newcastle en route to Guineas glory.  

Callum Rodriguez has established himself as one of the top jockeys at Newcastle and gave a timely reminder of his prowess on the Tapeta track with a quickfire double last week – his second winner Boston George bringing up an across-the-card treble for trainer Keith Dalgleish.

However, Rodriguez is packing his bags for a stint in Bahrain this winter. “I’ve never ridden abroad before and thought I’d give it a try. I’ve been given a good opportunity to ride some nice horses and am looking forward to the experience,” he told me.  

Watch out for young Epsom trainer Adam West when he travels horses up north. He boosted his strike rate at Newcastle to 19 per cent when the consistent Daphne May justified support in the 7f nursery on Monday evening. Adam has also excelled at Hamilton (two from four), Pontefract (three from five) and York (two from four) this year.  

Keep the name Pierre-Louis Jamin in mind this winter. Archie Watson’s apprentice has started riding out for top northern trainer Karl Burke and made his third ride for the master of Spigot Lodge a winning one when getting 17-2 shot Shallow Hal home in the 6f handicap at Southwell on Tuesday. The improving French-born rider looks good value for his 5lb claim.

Surfing The Sand

Newcastle 18:15, 30 October 2020

Wolverhampton 16:30, 31 October 2020

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