All-Weather Finals Day Preview
All-weather Finals Day is a brilliant initiative by the BHB that has continued to make all-weather racing more competitive by attracting a better-class of horse capable of winning the seven races that now traditionally take part on Good Friday.
The 2018 All-weather Finals Day will be the fifth time this big day has been staged, and it continues to be hosted by Lingfield Park where the races are run on polytrack. The seven races are the All-weather Apprentice Handicap, the All-weather Marathon Championships, the All-weather Fillies' and Mares' Championships, the All-weather Sprint Championships, the 3-Year-Old All-weather Championships, the All-weather Mile Championships, and the Easter Classic All-weather Middle-Distance Championships. Horses qualify for the above races by either winning one of the many Fastrack Qualifiers staged at the United Kingdom's various all-weather tracks or by amassing enough points by running in those qualifiers.
All-weather Apprentice Handicap
This race was only introduced in 2017, and bookies will be hoping it produces a similar result as last year. That’s because it was won by the 9-year-old Forceful Appeal who won at odds of 33/1 for trainer Simon Dow and jockey Paddy Bradley. It’s also the only race on the card that the bookies haven’t priced-up ante-post, and that’s because of the extra-variable that the apprentice jockeys bring to the equation. The two combinations that catch the eye are Master Speaker who has won his last two under RP Downey on the all-weather track at Dundalk in Ireland, whilst Rowan Scott has won four-times on El Hombre from six rides.
Tip: Master Speaker
All-weather Marathon Championships
The four previous editions have been won by Winning Story, Moonrise Landing, Mymatechris, and Litigant, with Moonrise Landing and Litigant well found in the market at, respectively, 6/5 and 2/1. Winning Story wasn’t too hard to find either as he was best in at the weights but drifted to 7/1 on the day, whilst Mymatechris landed a bit of a gamble at 8/1. Winners have been aged 4, 5 and 6.
Last year’s runner-up Watersmeet will surely go close after a hat-trick of all-weather wins already this season, but he does look vulnerable to a couple of opponents who are potentially better-class. Red Verdon, who was once sixth in The Derby, has won his last two on the all-weather and could easily take this if his stamina lasts out as he steps up half-a-mile in trip. However, Mountain Bell proved she gets this trip when staying on powerfully to win over it at Newcastle last time, leaving the impression she’ll improve even more in what should be a truly run race here.
Tip: Mountain Bell
All-weather Fillies' and Mares' Championships
The four winners have been returned at 3/1, 7/2, 4/1, and 6/1, with three winning four-year-olds and one winning five-year-old. The last two winners have been rated 102 and 107, though the first winner was rated just 76. There was also a French winner in 2015 when Fresles won for Mme Brandt and Gregory Benoist.
This looks a substandard renewal of this contest with no runners rated in the 100’s, and Zest and Carolinae must have chances. However, both look vulnerable to the potential of Diagnostic. William Haggas’ 4-year-old has won both times she’s encountered double-figure fields which suggests she looks sure to enjoy this big-field test stepped back up to 7-furlongs.
All-weather Sprint Championships
Anything that Richard Fahey trains for this race must be given serious consideration as the Yorkshire-based trainer has won three of the four renewals. The pace is usually a frenetic one which means the front-runners often tie-up and the hold-up horses prosper, which helped Alben Star land the inaugural edition at 25/1, However, he proved that was no fluke by winning the race for a second time in 2016 at 7/1. The other two winners were sent-off at 6/5 and 4/1, and winners have been aged 4, 6, 7, and 8.
A fast pace looks guaranteed with the likes of Gifted Master and Gracious John in the field, which should again set this up for a closer like Kachy or Kimberella. There was just a short-head between them last time, with Kachy just coming out on top, but it’s Kimberella who just gets the vote as Richard Fahey is sure to have trained him for a race he has enjoyed plenty of previous success in.
3-Year-Old All-weather Championships
This race wasn’t introduced until 2015 and was originally run over 5-furlongs before being increased to 6-furlongs. Lightscameraction landed the first edition at 20/1, but the last two winners have been easier to find at 4/1 and 11/8. The rating of the winner has also increased each year from 90 to 97 to 105.
The 105-rated Corinthia Knight looks sure to be popular after winning his last three races in taking style. However, before that successful run started, he was beaten by Never Back Down. Hugo Palmer’s son of Kodiac has been absent since that win but, as his trainer announced he had kept him fresh for this race by design, he looks an each-way play against the likely favourite.
Tip: Never Back Down
All-weather Mile Championships
The winners have got older each year with the 5-year-old Captain Cat proceeded by the 6-year-old Grey Mirage, the 7-year-old Captain Joy, and the 8-year-old Sovereign Debt. Meanwhile, winners have been rated between 99 and 110. Winners haven’t been the easiest to find with the four winners returned at 4/1, 13/2, 11/1, and 8/1. Both Grey Mirage and Sovereign Debt ran unsuccessfully in the race the year before they won it.
Second Thought and Arcanada look to have this between them on ratings and both have progressive profiles on the all-weather. Arcanada has won three of his four starts on the all-weather and is now two from two over course and distance. However, Second Thought won on this card last year and William Haggas has had this as his big-target ever since.
Tip: Second Thought
Easter Class All-weather Middle-Distance Championships
This is usually the highest-quality race on the card and the four winners so far have been rated between 111 and 115. The first three winners were well-backed favourites returned at odds of 6/4, 1/2 and 4/6, whilst Convey was a big drifter to 11/2 last year despite being the highest-rated horse.
William Haggas could easily be going for a big race treble here with Victory Bond, but he was beaten by Master Of The World earlier this season. Master Of The World also won last time be it with the help of the Stewards after finishing second behind Mr Owen after some interference. Mr Owen seemed to go particularly well for Jamie Spencer there though so, with him absent from the saddle this time, Master Of The World is readily preferred.
Tip: Master Of The World