Our racing gives his race-by-race guide to the All-Weather Finals at Lingfield.
2:00 Marathon (2m conditions race)
Red Verdon is disputing favouritism with Watersmeet and both have been in fine form since the turn of the year, winning five races between them. However, the former horse is trying 2m for the first time, which is not ideal in a race of this nature, and Watersmeet might struggle to confirm form with French challenger FUNNY KID, who was just a neck adrift when they met at Wolverhampton in January. The runner-up traded at 1.1 in running having travelled well and, having been put away since to wait for this, he must have bright prospects of turning the tables on the winner over this sharper 2m.
2:30 Fillies & Mares (7f conditions race)
This looks tight with the the first five in the market rated between 90 and 95, but the likely strong pace could play into the hands of CAROLINAE. Charlie Fellowes’ mare could only finish seventh in last year’s renewal but she has improved since then and probably didn’t get home when fourth behind Zest over 1m here last month. A fast run 7f around here is what she needs ideally and with her stablemate Mia Tesoro, who needs further and is likely to be ridden positively, could help set up things up for her. She’s a big enough price for an each-way bet if you want to play it more cautious.
3:05 Sprint (6f conditions race)
Kimberella will be trying to give Richard Fahey his fourth win in five runnings, having claimed this prize in 2016, but he was behind KACHY over track and trip 55 days ago and may have to again play second fiddle on to that horse. While the winner appeared to make hard work of it on that occasion, he had an awful draw to overcome and is best judged on his previous scintillating success in January, again over this course and distance. Runner-up to Quiet Reflection in the 2016 Commonwealth Cup before losing his way, Tom Dascombe’s nifty five-year-old has been revitalised by a switch to this surface and he can take his record to 3-3.
3:40 Three-Year-Old (6f conditions race)
The highest rated horse won last year’s renewal and that bodes well for the current favourite CORINTHIA KNIGHT, who has upwards of 7lb in hand over his rivals. While that might flatter him slightly, his second in the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton last September is the standout piece of form on offer and he’s improved since. Indeed, he’s 3-3 since the turn of the year, culminating in a clearcut Listed triumph at Chantilly 15 days ago, and I’m reasonably confident he can stretch his successful sequence to four under Oisin Murphy, who is 4-5 on him.
4:10 Mile (1m conditions race)
It’s easy to see why Second Thought is as short as 5/4 as he’s unbeaten on the all-weather (6-6) and looked better than ever when taking a Wolverhampton Listed race on his return to action 20 days ago. However, when you consider that all bar one of his victories – the least impressive distance-wise – have come over trips shorter than a mile, he looks opposable and ARCANADA rates the best alternative. Tom Dascombe’s five-year-old hasn’t looked back since being fitted with cheek-pieces, with two of his three wins coming over track and trip, and his form is on a par with that of the favourite, having beaten Winter Derby second Mr Owen last time. For a horse who likes to be at the head of affairs, he’s well drawn in stall three.
4:40 Classic (1m2f conditions race)
A competitive finale with very little to choose between the main challengers on the official ratings. But it could pay to concentrate on those that ran in the Winter Derby over track and MR OWEN, the demoted runner-up, would be a deserving winner. David Simcock’s entire showed a smart turn of foot to pass the post first on that occasion, only to be demoted by the Stewards for interfering with Master The World, who was a head away in second having taken longer to pick up. He would have won by a more clearcut margin but for swerving to avoid a shadow close home (cast by the big screen on the inside of the track), and he can finish in front of his old rival on merit this time.
All odds were correct at time of posting.