Surfing The Sand

Dundalk stages the third Fast Track Qualifier of the new season this weekend while Chelmsford City hosts an early trial for the Marathon Championship. Our All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft previews the action and reveals the horses that have caught his eye in the opening week of Season 7.

  • Thursday 31 October
  • Blog
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Mick Halford’s classy mare SURROUNDING looks the one they all have to beat in Dundalk’s new Fast Track Qualifier on Friday evening.

She sets a demanding standard in the Listed Al Basti Equiworld Irish EBF Cooley Fillies’ Stakes (7.45) over 7f on the Polytrack, which guarantees the winner a place in the £150,000 Fillies’ and Mares’ Final on Good Friday.

Surrounding has taken her form to a new level at the age of six this year, winning a Group 3 over this specialist trip at Fairyhouse in July and Listed races at Naas and Galway.

She comes into the race a fresh horse after finishing a creditable fifth against the boys in the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown on Irish Champions weekend.

A course and distance winner, the daughter of Lilbourne Lad is nicely drawn in stall six for a prominent racer and is taken to defy a Group penalty at the expense of some well-bred fillies who are yet to prove themselves at Listed level.

Joseph O’Brien is responsible for five of the 14 runners including Jumellea, who did well to be placed in Listed company in bottomless ground over 1m at Naas recently but could find this trip somewhat inadequate having also won over an extended 1m4f this year.

Crotchet, a multiple winner on turf for Richard Fahey, had three of these rivals behind when only just failing to win a course and distance handicap for O’Brien Jnr in early October. She may again fare better than Festina Plente and Kaftan but still needs to find significant improvement to upstage the principals on these unfavourable terms.


TAMMOOZ struck me as a young stayer with a future when winning at Ripon’s final fixture of the season in late September and can prove a hit on the All-Weather this winter for Roger Varian and owner Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum.

The strapping son of Lawman has already shown an aptitude for synthetics and re-appears in the £50,000 Bet toteswinger At Handicap (6.30) at Chelmsford City on Saturday – a race that might prove an early pointer to the Marathon Championship.

Stepping up two furlongs looks sure to suit this gelding, who won a 1m4f handicap with plenty in hand at the Garden Racecourse. He was value for a winning margin of just over a length as he idled after hitting the front.

For such a raw slow burner, Tammooz coped well with Ripon’s undulations and promises to relish the more conventional galloping test that Chelmsford presents. David Egan, who was successful on him at Windsor in August, is back on board.

John Gosden looks set to dominate the Championships once again with his battalion of well-bred young horses and holds an obvious chance with top weight First In Line, a winner on the Polytrack at Lingfield in June and another who should enjoy moving up in distance.

Whether he can give 15lb and a beating to Tammooz and other progressive rivals is questionable, however.



David O’Meara’s gelding was well backed to follow up his 7f win at Wolverhampton on 18th October when he returned to the scene of that victory on Wednesday evening. However, a near-impossible draw in stall 12 put paid to his chances and he could finish only fifth. Predictably, Mischief Star endured a wide trip but showed speed and tenacity in equal measure to get competitive on the swing for home and was beaten little more than a length. He can remain competitive off a 1lb higher mark and compensation awaits.


A big run in defeat in the mud at Doncaster paved the way for an emphatic Fibresand debut at Southwell earlier this week. Not only did John Quinn’s lightly raced gelding adapt well to the sand, but he also relished the step up to 1m4f. With plenty of opportunities at that trip – or even further – at his disposal at Southwell in the coming weeks, the son of Archipenko can defy a 5lb rise and, in fact, looks the type to rack up a sequence.


David Barron’s sprinter hasn’t won since scoring around Lingfield for Jamie Osborne in February last year but has slipped to a dangerous mark and hinted at Newcastle on the opening day of the season that he is ready to bounce back. The Kodiac gelding is 19lb below that last successful mark and, having been raised only 1lb for his strong-finishing second on the Tapeta, is one to keep on side next time.


James Fanshawe is always patient with his stoutly bred young horses and can be rewarded by this scopey gelding when he makes his handicap debut next time. He was doing all his best work late on to split 725,000 gns winner By Bye Lady and odds-on favourite Kasia over 1m4f at Wolverhampton in midweek on his third career start. The son of Kitten’s Joy is bred to appreciate the All-Weather and can emulate his half-brothers Colonial Classic and Flaming Marvel by winning over staying trips off what should be a workable opening mark.

Surfing The Sand

Dundalk 19:45, 1 November 2019

Chelmsford City 18:30, 2 November 2019

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