This season’s All-Weather Championships step up a gear at Lingfield Park on Saturday, November 17th, with two Listed Fast-Track Qualifiers on Polytrack offering free and guaranteed places for £1-million Finals Day at the Surrey course on Good Friday, April 19th.
Addeybb (William Haggas) captured the bet365 Mile at Sandown Park in April and could make his All-Weather debut in the 10-furlong £40,000 Listed Betway Churchill Stakes (2.45pm), a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same course and distance.
The four-year-old, has to carry a 6lb penalty and could face a stern test with Listed scorer Big Country (Michael Appleby) and defending champion Master The World (David Elsworth), who also won the Betway Winter Derby last season, among the 12 entries
Yorkshire-based David O’Meara is set to be doubly-represented, with Frankuus on course to make his second appearance for the handler after coming home fourth in the Listed James Seymour Stakes at Newmarket on November 3rd.
The four-year-old Frankel colt, who has raced exclusively on turf up to now, showed a high level of form for previous trainer Mark Johnston, headed by a game all-the-way success in the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock Park in August, 2017.
He is set to be joined by stable-companion Primero, who has won three times on Polytrack and heads to Lingfield Park after a decisive win in a Chelmsford City handicap over 10 furlongs on November 8th.
O’Meara commented: “Frankuus hasn’t raced on the All-Weather before and I am not quite sure how he will handle it, but we wanted to give him a run on the surface to see how he gets on.
“We didn’t have him very long before he ran at Newmarket and he could well have needed the run a little bit.
“Up to now, all his best form on turf has been on soft ground, but we will have to see how he copes with the Polytrack. We won’t know until he races on it and will make a plan for the winter afterwards.
“I think Primero is a very smart horse and, at the moment, he will also take his chance. He picked up an injury out in Dubai at the start of the year and missed a lot of time.
“We ran him at York in October, when he needed the run badly, and I thought that he was very impressive last time out at Chelmsford.
“He has a bit to find on ratings with a few of his rivals, but I think he can make the step up. He might go out to Dubai again for their Carnival, but I would like to get him qualified for Finals Day.”
Scarlet Dragon (Alan King) was beaten a head in the September Stakes on his only All-Weather appearance at Kempton Park in 2017, while Spark Plug (Brian Meehan) has shown good form on turf, including winning at Listed level.
Britain’s champion Flat trainer John Gosden has two contenders in Graffiti Master, successful on his only previous All-Weather start, and Maverick Wave, who was second to Grendisar in the 2016 Betway Winter Derby.
Ireland’s champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien has entered Snowflakes, while further representation from across the Irish Sea could be provided by Vivianite, trained at the Curragh by Michael Halford.
Dance Legend (Rae Guest) completes the entries.
Saturday’s other Fast-Track Qualifier is the six-furlong £37,000 Listed Betway Golden Rose Stakes (3.15pm), with a Good Friday place up for grabs in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships over the same distance.
The 26 entries include Kimberella (Richard Fahey), successful in the 2016 All-Weather Sprint Championships, and Corinthia Knight (Archie Watson), who took the £150,000 Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships on Good Friday last season.
This year’s Stewards’ Cup winner Gifted Master (Hugo Palmer) readily beat Mythmaker (Bryan Smart) in the Betway Golden Rose Stakes 12 months ago, while Straight Right (Andrew Balding), is seeking a hat-trick of All-Weather wins.
Above The Rest (David Barron) may aim for another major All-Weather success following victory in the Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle in June, while Encrypted (Hugo Palmer) was second in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival in September.
O’Meara will have two runners in the Betway Golden Rose Stakes, headed by Intisaab who will make his first start since capturing a valuable handicap on turf at the Curragh, Ireland, in July.
The seven-year-old enjoyed a productive winter campaign last season, winning a Tapeta conditions race at Wolverhampton in December and finishing fourth in the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships, as well as capturing the valuable Dukhan Sprint at Doha, Qatar, in February.
Gulliver is set to make his debut for O’Meara, having previously raced for Hugo Palmer. The four-year-old, a three-time-winner on the All-Weather, was runner-up to Intisaab at Wolverhampton and took third in the Dukhan Sprint, before finishing fifth in the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships.
O’Meara added: “We gave Intisaab a break after winning at the Curragh as we had the winter in mind for him again. I would like to get him qualified for Good Friday again and he will run here and again in December before hopefully going out to Dubai.
“He has had a really good 12 months, winning out in Qatar and a nice race at Wolverhampton as well as picking up a big handicap at the Curragh.
“We only purchased Gulliver at the horses in training sale recently. This will be a bit of a fact-finding mission, but he seems to be in very good shape and has met Intisaab a few times in the past.
“He has finished last on his latest two runs, but he missed the break at Kempton Park and then didn’t perform at Newcastle. We will have to wait and see how he gets on.”
Other contenders include Muthmir (William Haggas), Gracious John (David Evans), successful in the Listed Betway Hever Sprint Stakes in February, and Could It Be Love (Aidan O’Brien IRE), who was runner-up in this year’s Irish 1,000 Guineas.
A seven-race card at Lingfield Park gets underway at 12.25 and also includes the mile £19,000 Sun Racing Handicap (1.35pm, 10 entries), in which O’Meara is due to run Salateen (9st 9lb), whose biggest victory came when taking the seven-furlong Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes on Tapeta at Wolverhampton in March, 2018.
The trainer continued: “A mile might not be Salateen’s optimum trip, but I don’t mind running him over the distance around Lingfield Park.
“He wasn’t beaten far when third to Sovereign Debt in the All-Weather Mile Championships a couple of years ago and is a very good horse.”