What are the best bets for the All-Weather Championships Finals at Lingfield?
Lingfield stages the All-Weather Championships on Good Friday and I’ve run the rule over all seven races, steering clear of the favourite wherever possible in search of some value.
13:40 32Red All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes, 7f1yds
William Haggas’ South African import Cold As Ice is much the best horse in the race – she is rated between 5lb and 35lb superior to her rivals – and wouldn’t have looked out of place in the much stronger Sprint. A dual Grade 2 winner, she looked unlucky not to win a qualifier over 6f here last time, having dwelt at the start and then been stuck at the back before finishing late into third, and a cleaner break here would make her very hard to beat.
However, she’ll need to be sharp from the gates given her wide draw in stall 10 and, with bookmakers going a stingy 4/6, I’d rather have a little each-way on Marco Botti’s ALFAJER. She finished a place in front of Cold As Ice when third at Wolverhampton two outings ago and didn’t enjoy as smooth a trip as Volunteer Point when a place behind that rival at Deauville last time. Her form figures over 7f here are ’12’, making all on the first occasion, and Andrea Atzeni might try similar tactics here from a plum draw in stall one.
Back Aljafer each-way @ 9/1 Paddy Power
14:10 Unibet All-Weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes, 6f1yds
The winners of all four fast-track qualifiers are in the field, with Lancelot Du Lac being one of them. Dean Ivory’s charge has won his last three starts on Polytrack, including a hot handicap over course and distance at the end of 2014, and was a comfortable winner at Chelmsford when last seen out in January. However, at just 9/4 he has to be taken on as, like Cold As Ice in the opener, he’s been handed a wide draw in stall 13 and will need some luck in running – it’s worth remembering he was only eighth in this race two years ago after meeting with trouble.
Let’s take him on with the Stuart Williams-trained REALIZE, who is a nice each-way price given he has plenty going for him, not least a better draw in stall seven. The son of Zafeen has really blossomed this winter and was taking his Lingfield record to 4-4 when beating Shyron a neck in February. He then had no luck in running when failing in his hat-trick bid in the Listed Wulfruna Stakes at Wolverhampton and may well be still improving. All his recent wins have been 7f, admittedly, but they will go a crazy pace in this race and it’s easy to see him finishing best of all for a place at the very least. Of the rest, Kevin Ryan’s Goken is very much respected from his inside draw.
Back Realize each-way @ 11/1 Ladbrokes
14:40 32Red All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes, 1m7f169yds
Moonrise Landing has an unblemished 3-3 record on the all-weather and will be a tough nut to crack if fully wound up after her 104-day break from action. However, the 5/2 on offer looks pretty skinny given she’s got very little in hand on the ratings and I’d much rather have a few quid each-way on FIRST MOHICAN at a massive 20/1.
Alan King’s charge beat Ballynanty (who reopposes) a neck under a big weight over 1m6f at Wolverhampton in December and has clearly been unsuited by shorter trips since, though he would surely have gone close over 1m4f back at Wolverhampton last time had he not endured a nightmare run. He’s right up there on the ratings – just 1lb behind the favourite – and is by no means overraced for an eight-year-old. As this is as far he wants to go, I’d expect Jimmy Fortune to ride a patient race and bring him with a late run – things may well fall right for him.
Back First Mohican each-way @ 20/1 Paddy Power
15:15 Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile Championships Conditions Stakes, 1m1yds
Roger Varian’s Mindurownbusiness looks to have first-rate claims as he has been dominant in his performances over this trip on the all-weather since the start of last year and was particularly impressive at Wolverhampton last time. However, at the back of my mind I’ve got his heavy defeat in this race 12 months ago (ninth of 15) and that’s enough for me to swerve him at just 2/1.
The obvious alternative is last year’s runner-up SOVEREIGN DEBT who might have won with a clear run. He’s been a model of consistency since and is 5lb better off with the Mark Johnston’s Mister Universe, who beat him a nose at Wolverhampton 11 days ago. That horse is even better over a mile and indeed won over track and trip previously to go 3-3 on sand. However, he has a horrible draw in stall 12, while the selection will exit from one and will be a lot sharper for the run. Indeed, all eight of his wins have come after an absence of 29 days or less.
Back Sovereign Debt @ 11/4 bet365
15:45 Coral Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championships Conditions Stakes, 1m2f
I wouldn’t put anyone off backing Grendisar who has form figures of 1121312122 over course and distance and has looked better than ever on his last two starts. However, for a horse who needs luck in running and has finished a beaten favourite twice already this season, he’s very short at just 5/4 (Paddy Power) and the temptation is to have a little on BATTALION in the hope he’s on a going day.
William Haggas’ gelding definitely has two ways of running but he’s capable of some smart form and that is reflected in his rating, which is just 1lb shy of Grendisar’s. We know he likes it here as he’s won twice over track and trip and the fact he’s been off for 96 days is a positive as he goes well fresh. His rider Pat Cosgrave, who has been on board for his last two wins, seems to get the best out of this quirky sort.
Back Battalion @ 11/2 William Hill
16:15 Unibet 3 Year Old Sprint All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes, 5f6yds
One favourite I’m not keen to take on is GRACIOUS JOHN, who looked the ideal type for this race when beating Flying Childers runner-up Ornate over course and distance in January before following up at Kempton (Field Of Vision well held in second). His all-weather hat-trick attempt at Chelmsford did not go to plan, although it was to his great credit that he was only beaten a length into third as he was subsequently found to be lame. That was 47 days ago, so has had plenty of time to recover, and from a good draw in stall two he can confirm himself as the best three-year-old sprinter on the surface.
Wolowitz and Quatrieme Ami look the chief threats having won five races between them on sand this winter, with the latter lowering the 5f course record at Wolverhampton. Neither are as well drawn as the selection, though, and have plenty to find on the ratings besides.
Back Gracious John @ 15/8 Ladbrokes
16:45 32Red All-Weather 3 Year Old Mile Championships Conditions Stakes, 1m1yds
Roger Varian’s Haalick has been put in as a short-priced favourite for the finale and and that’s understandable as he was very impressive when winning over 7f here on his return, putting the race to bed in a matter of strides. He’s clearly improving at the right time of year and it would be no surprise if we were to end up contesting better races later this season. But the current 15/8 is no giveaway as he did enjoy the run of a rough race last time and I just wonder whether he will quite so effective over this longer trip, given the turn of foot he showed.
So, I’m going to take him on and the Mark Johnston-trained 2000 Guineas entry CAPE SPEED makes most appeal of the rest. He too looks to be improving fast judging on recent starts and was completing a hat-trick on the all-weather when scoring over a mile at Kempton last time, pulling clear under top weight from a last-time-out winner. A staying on winner over 7f on his previous start, he looks the type to keep finding for pressure – like many of his stablemates – and certainly won’t be found wanting if this race develops into a scrap.
Back Cape Speed @ 5/1 bet365
All odds were correct at time of posting.