Good Friday marks the third running of the All Weather Championship Finals Day and another stellar seven-race card has been assembled.
Here’s a run through of each race and the respective championship category.
13:40 – Fillies’ and Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes (Class 2):
The South African filly COLD AND ICE is clearly the one to beat in tomorrow’s opening contest and is rated 5lbs clear on official ratings to her nearest pursuer. William Haggas’ inmate mad a pleasing British debut when finishing less than three-lengths behind Lamar in fourth at Wolverhampton last November.
However, she showcased her true ability in winning at Chelmsford in December, but then proved to be out of luck in her latest start when staying on gamely at the finish to get within a length-and-a-half of Rivellino over six-furlongs at Lingfield in a Listed contest.
That performance proved a return to seven-furlongs is ideal on finals day, and she heads to the Surrey course with glittering claims. Her stall in 10 in not ideal though she should have enough class to prevail from such a position to win this for favourite backers.
Selection: Cold As Ice
14:10 – Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes (Class 2):
This year’s renewal of the Sprint Championships is just as competitive as 12 months ago. Favourite Lancelot Du Lac smashed the course record when winning over five-furlongs at Chelmsford in January and arrives here with the best form on offer. However, Dean Ivory’s charge has been handed an awful draw in 13 and will need a monumental effort to win from that gate.
Instead, it is Kevin Ryan’s four-year old GOKEN who is worth supporting after he made a smooth transition to an all-weather surface when winning on stable debut over course-and-distance last November. The son of Kendargent is joint top-rated in the field and has the benefit of a kind draw in one.
Recent reports from Ryan’s yard suggest Goken is in fine heart, and at prices he offers the best alternative to the favourite.
14:40 – Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes (Class 2):
BALLYANTY was bitterly unlucky not to beat Anglophile at Lingfield in January when caught in traffic problems inside the final two-furlongs to finish within half-a-length of the winner.
The step up in distance to two-miles seems to have found plenty of improvement in Andrew Balding’s four-year old, who is still lightly-raced and on an upward curve. He has 3lbs to find on official ratings to favourite Moonrise Landing but has shown a key liking to the sharp nature of Lingfield’s track and will relish the test of tomorrow’s marathon highlight.
At 7/1, Ballyanty represents fantastic each-way value for a trainer who won this race last year and believes his inmate for 2016 boasts all of the necessary talents to go very close.
Selection: Ballyanty E/W
15:15 – Mile Championships Conditions Stakes (Class 2):
Mindyourownbusiness has proved to be the standout contender around the mile mark this all-weather season and rightfully heads the market at 15/8. However, Roger Varian’s charge was beaten three-lengths in this race last season and is best ignored at the prices.
Captain Cat returned to winning ways at Kempton recently when adopting front-running tactics under jockey Jamie Spencer. The seven-year old won this contest in 2014 and could offer value at 7/1 if replicating that performance.
However, it is SOVEREIGN DEBT for trainer Dandy Nicholls that really catches the eye. Beaten into an unfortunate second in this race 12 months ago, Sovereign Debt made his seasonal reappearance when finishing a nose behind Mister Universe at Wolverhampton earlier this month.
The seven-year old gave Mister Universe 5lbs in that race and is said to have come on considerably for the run. He should reverse that form with Mark Johnston’s horse before going close to gaining compensation for last year’s finals day disappointment.
Selection: Sovereign Debt
15:45 – Easter Classic All Weather Middle Distance
GRENDISAR has been sensational over Lingfield’s 1m2f all winter and will take the world of beating under course specialist Adam Kirby tomorrow afternoon. Grendisar’s record over course-and-distance reads: 1122321112 – a spell of incredible consistency.
Marco Botti’s charge has looked even better as a six-year old in 2016 and continues to improve with age. His victory in the Winter Derby last month cemented his position atop of the middle distance division and he heads to Good Friday in rude health.
Grendisar has toppled the vast majority of his rivals in tomorrow’s contest this season and is a pound clear on ratings. From stall two, he is set to be held up in his usual running style before coming fast and late.
16:15 – Three Year Old Sprint All Weather Championships Conditions Stakes (Class 2):
This year’s three-year old sprint final is dominated by a warm favourite in GRACIOUS JOHN for trainer Dave Evans. The son of Baltic King won over course-and-distance earlier in the winter before producing a outlandish display to finish third behind Kadrizzi at Chelmsford last time.
The horse hung badly throughout that contest and was unsteerable as they turned for home. Nonetheless, Gracious John still battled well to get within a length of the winner before it arose that the horse finished lame.
Now, back to full fitness and a return to Lingfield amongst a larger field, Gracious John is expected to produce a bold showing prior to targeting more illustrious targets later this summer.
Selection: Gracious John
16:45 – Three Year Old Mile All Weather Championships Conditions Stakes (Class 2):
The race in which favourite Haalick won earlier this month at Lingfield has been labelled as one of the roughest of the season. A number of leading hopefuls encountered trouble in-running during that contest, none more so than market leader Abe Lincoln.
Take nothing away from the winner Haalick, who produced a notable final two-furlong sectional to win the seven-furlong contest following a near nine-month break. The manner in which he finished the race suggests that this step up to a mile is well within in grasp and should he progress from his run last time out, then he’ll boast serious claims.
However, it may be worth taking a chance on SEA OF FLAMES for David Elsworth. This gelded son of Aqlaam encountered plenty of traffic problems when finishing eighth behind Haalick though still produced a solid performance considering his troubles. It was the three-year old’s first run in the class and he is sure to have learnt plenty from the experience.
With Silvestre De Sousa in the plate, Sea Of Flames looks to have a better chance than his price suggests, especially if he returns to the level of performance that saw him easily dispatch of a handicap field on his penultimate start.
Selection: Haalick & Sea Of Flames E/W