It’s been a pretty busy week between Christmas and the New Year and that continues into Saturday and Sunday with a bet or two to be had, no rest for the wicked as they say. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I have always been a bit of a fan of the all-weather in the winter and I am concentrating on that this weekend at Lingfield Park– gold from the sand and all that.
Dubai One has a couple of entries for Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin over the next few days but the one she is taking up is the Betway Sprint Handicap due off at midday down at Lingfield on Saturday. She was putting together a fair run of results until things went totally wrong in the three-year-old All-Weather Championship over this six furlong track and trip in April. The stable is in fine form, Oisin Murphy rides and I think the filly can get back to winning ways here to kick-start another campaign on the sand this winter; I think she will be rated 100+ sooner rather than later. Get on for this at 3-1.
At 2.20 they line-up for the Play Starburst Slot At sunbets.co.uk/vegas Handicap over the one mile and a yard course – don’t forget the yard! Living Leader aint getting any younger but has performed at a fair level down the years and went well when third in a 1m½f event last time at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago; the winner went close carrying the 6lb penalty at Chelmsford subsequently plus the fifth and sixth have come out and won since. The gelding has won here three times, once over track and trip, and though the draw might have been kinder the booking of Luke Morris is no bad thing and 9-2 looks fair in a competitive heat.
For the Betway Casino Handicap at 2.55 over the mile-and-a-half Zubayr intrigues me. The five-year-old has been in with some good types over the sticks and it is easy to miss the flat form. He ran twice at three for Alain de Royer Dupre out in France before moving to Paul Nicholls to go hurdling. The master of Ditcheat kept him busy in the summer this year with three runs for a win and two seconds on the flat. The win was over 1m4f at Kempton on their polytrack before finishing second over the same track and trip prior to the second at Haydock again over 1m4f. Megan Nicholls rides again, as she did the three runs in the summer, and she takes off 5lb. At 9-2 I fancy him to be a very rare winner for the stable at the track.
On New Years Eve there are a three entered that will be backed if they take up their engagements which it looks like all three will.
For the Betway Handicap at 1.15 Godolphin have entered the Charlie Appleby trained Celestial Spheres stepping up to 1m4f for the first time. Having gone well several times in the summer and autumn, won at Goodwood and Newmarket, it went horribly wrong on her all-weather debut last month over 1m2f here. Slowly into stride and always wide having been drawn 13 of 13 she never got in a blow. She is clearly better than that and will be worth a look if she does line-up.
At 1.45 the milers are out for the Play For Free At Sunbets.co.uk/vegas Handicap. It’s Godolphin and Charlie Appleby again as I like the look of chestnut gelding Mystique Moon. He is bred to be good, by Shamardal out of Celestial Girl (Dubai Destination) and open to plenty of improvement yet. He won his first two starts back in January and February on the all-weather before finishing second when last seen over a mile at Chelmsford City in April just losing out in the final fifty yards to Godolphin owned filly Arabian Hope. That’s not bad form as she went on to win the Listed Ganton Stakes at York and G.3 Istanbul Trophy out in Turkey in the summer as well as finishing third in the G.1 Falmouth stakes behind Roly Poly and Wuheida. Clearly aimed at this with Tom Marquand booked nice and early to ride (Buick in Dubai) I will be on the three-year-old as I think he is another potential 100+ horse in waiting.
The Betway Sprint Handicap (Div1) at 2.15 over the six furlongs looks a tricky affair. A number of these though come from stables that can’t buy a win at the moment and I think I may have spotted one. Phil McEntee is far from a big name in Newmarket but he has Bernie’s Boy making his debut for the yard entered for this (was with Iain Jardine). The gelding is on a winning mark of 65 having come down a pound or two and is set to carry 9-7 with Nicola Currie taking off 7lb with her claim. The four-year-old has a chance to my eyes as he stays up to a mile, likes to be up with the pace and rarely runs a bad race. Visor and hood have been applied to concentrate the mind and I will be backing him.
Cheltenham is the main meeting on New Years day; I have no bets planned yet and if I do have a go you will read about it here first.