It is All-weather Championships Day at Lingfield on Good Friday with some decent competitive races to enjoy. Sunshine and showers are forecast, what would you expect for a Bank Holiday weekend, but that’s not going to get me down as I think I have a winner or six to lift the gloom.
I am leaving the Apprentice race alone so the first race of interest for me is the 2.00 in which Red Verdon and Watersmeet are two of nine in the All-weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes. The one that has caught my eye though is the Qatar Racing mare Mountain Bell. Red Veron got the better of her over 1m4f at Kempton in November but she looked to love every yard of the 2m½f trip at Newcastle on her first try at the longer distance in December (Watersmeet third) and could well be open to improvement yet over two-miles. Watersmeet has won three times since that December run plus the fourth and sixth in the race have also notched victories since so the form looks rock solid. Oisin Murphy rides and is in a confident mood from the comments I read earlier this week. Grab the 9-2.
Next up is the All-weather Fillies' And Mares' Championships at 2.30. Make Music should blast out of stall six and lead them along but I cannot see her holding them off for long. Diagnostic put together a run of form late in 2017 but hasn’t been that good on her last two starts; Summer Icon beat her over seven at Wolverhampton in January. The James Fanshawe trained Zest won over a mile here last time, Summer Icon in second, and looks to be finding form at just the right time. She has that all important for me form here in Surrey and is drawn nicely to track the trailblazing Make Music and hopefully leave them all behind turning for home. I have the 7-2.
At 3.05 Hugo Palmer has a strong hand in the Betway All-weather Sprint Championships with both Gifted Master and Gulliver running. Gifted Master has to be respected but hasn’t been seen since winning here in November. Kachy has hit form at the right time winning his last two outings (tipped on here last time) both over track and trip and I am on the Tom Dascombe trained 5yo again at 11-4. The yards inmates are going well and hopefully, the selection can get the jump out of the stalls on the Palmer horse.
Corinthia Knight looks the one to beat in the Three-Year-Old All-weather Championships at 3.40 over six furlongs with 10 declared. The chestnut colt won a Listed heat at Chantilly earlier this month and to my eyes looks a level above this opposition. I would expect to see Global Academy and Albishr lead them early with the selection tucked in waiting to pounce. Oisin Murphy rides and he gets on very well with the horse – ridden him five times winning four - so though he is short enough at 6-4 I am on.
It is the turn of the Milers for the All-weather Mile Championships at 4.00. Second Thought won the Three-Year-Old All-weather Championships here last year and beat Summer Icon (see Fillies' And Mares') over seven at Wolverhampton in his prep race for this. He won a Listed heat at Kempton on sole start over eight furlongs which is a plus but my biggest concern is he can be caught napping in the stalls and if he does that here from the one draw he could find himself behind a wall of horses with nowhere to go. The Tom Dascombe trained Arcanada, on the other hand, likes to be up the pointed end from the off and is almost ideally drawn in three from where he has every chance of getting into the perfect pitch early especially if Second Thought is snoozing and with Chevallier in two no early pacesetter either. The chestnut gelding has won over course and distance and with the yard in fine form is the selection at 11-4 to complete a Dascombe double on the day.
To bring the curtain down on the day it’s the Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championships Conditions Stakes at 4.40. Utmost won the Listed Winter Derby Trial over track and Trip and lead for a long way in the G.3 Winter Derby but was unable to hold a number of these off in the final furlong. Mr Owen crossed the line first in the G.3 Winter Derby but was found to have interfered with David Elsworth's grey Master The World who was subsequently awarded the race; came from last on the final bend to storm up the straight. One that had trouble up the run-in as well but that did not get anywhere near as much publicity was Battle Of Marathon. The six-year-old was coming home at a rate of knots as well to finish third and is available at around 16-1. The gelding was below-par in 2017 but might be running back into form and at his best won't be far away at the fininsh. Adam Kirdy rides which is seen as a positive and I am.
Six of the best there – hopefully - for a very Good Friday all being well to pay for all those Easter Eggs or perhaps an alcoholic beverage or two over the Bank Holiday weekend.