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Simon has worked as a racing journalist since 1994 and can be seen regularly on the award-winning Sky Sports’ channel At The Races, presenting live horse racing from the track and the studio. He is widely regarded as the leading expert on All-Weather racing, spearheading the coverage of the annual All-Weather Championships on At The Races. Simon will be contributing weekly articles on his best picks for the all weather action

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Simon Mapletoft – All-Weather Finals Day 2016 Selections

At The Races All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft previews all seven races on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday – the richest race day on sand in Europe featuring the Coral Easter Classic, with over £1 million of prize money up for grabs.

Fillies & Mares Final

Cold As Ice was a high class filly in South Africa, winning two Grade 2’s at Kenilworth and finishing a close second in a Grade 1. No surprise, then, that she’s the stand-out contender for the distaff crown after translating a high level of form to the All-Weather this winter. Now with William Haggas, she beat some experienced opposition in a Chelmsford City conditions race in December and had the speed to finish third in the Listed Cleves Stakes over six furlongs at Lingfield last month. She won’t have any issues with the extra yardage on this sharp track and will be tough to beat despite being drawn wider than ideal in stall 10.

The obvious danger is Mick Channon’s Volunteer Point, who has won twice over a mile this winter but dropped back to this trip of seven furlongs to snatch a Fast Track Qualifier at Chelmsford in January. She isn’t short of speed and is better drawn in three but may just lack the acceleration of Cold As Ice, who is more of a sprinting type and would have to concede 5lb in a handicap. With confirmed pacemakers in the line-up, this should be a strongly run race with Amanda Perrett’s Saucy Minx looking the best of the rest.

Best Bet: COLD AS ICE

Sprint Final

We haven’t seen Kevin Ryan’s French import Goken since he won the Listed Golden Rose Stakes over course and distance on his All-Weather debut back in November, but this colt is among the highest rated in the line-up and could prove much better than his opposition with a decent low draw in his favour. Goken was a dual Group 3 winner in France who has been tried at the highest level on turf and may just have the edge over Lancelot Du Lac, whose chances have been dealt a severe blow by a poor draw in stall 13.

Dean Ivory

Dean Ivory’s gelding is better than ever at six and has been freshened up since landing a qualifier over the minimum trip at Chelmsford City in January. I saw him going through his paces at Dean’s Radlett yard the other day and he looks in great shape for this return to his optimum trip. Rivellino was right back to his best when claiming his second Listed Cleves Stakes here and should acquit himself well despite again being unlucky with the draw.

Best Bet: GOKEN (ew)

Marathon Final

Anglophile is sure to give this a good shot after only just failing to clinch the stayers’ crown 12 months ago, but he may have to settle for a share of the minor honours with Ralph Beckett’s exciting mare Moonrise Landing in the line-up. She was much too good for the Godolphin gelding in a Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton in December and can confirm her superiority here on her first run since from an ideal starting position in stall two.

Horse Racing - Lingfield Park Racecourse

Moonrise Landing has taken her form to a new level since stepping up to two miles and has already proven that she handles Lingfield, having won there on debut two years ago. A bigger danger than Anglophile may be Andrew Balding’s lightly raced Ballynanty, who may well have beaten the Godolphin horse over course and distance last time but for being hampered on the home turn. He has improved for the fitting of a tongue-tie and has more to offer on these terms.

Best Bet: MOONRISE LANDING

Mile Final

The value here could be with Mark Johnston’s improving four-year-old Mister Universe, who made a winning return over course and distance before claiming the scalp of the smart Sovereign Debt in a Listed Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton two weeks ago. A late arrival on the All-Weather scene and tactically versatile enough to overcome a wider draw than ideal in stall 10, he clearly has more to offer and will appreciate the return to a mile.

This is a strong renewal with Sovereign Debt – unlucky in this 12 months ago – out to avenge that Wolverhampton defeat without the burden of a 5lb Group penalty. A hold-up horse, he relies on plenty of luck in running but might just find his younger rival too good again. Mindurownbusiness has been the stand-out horse over this trip and is a worthy favourite from a great draw in five, but will have to be on his ‘A’ game to halt the progress of Johnston’s emerging star if he gets a trouble-free run.

Best Bet: MISTER UNIVERSE (ew)

Middle Distance Final: Coral Easter Classic

Grendisar

There’s no getting away from Grendisar who has the Middle Distance crown at his mercy following brilliant displays in the Listed Winter Derby Trial and the Group Three Winter Derby itself. He has beaten his main opponents on a number of occasions and appears more tactically versatile than he used to be. Adam Kirby has won six times on Marco Botti’s star who will be produced late off what should be an ideally strong pace.

Maverick Wave was left for dead by Grendisar in the Winter Derby and will be at the business end, along with Mark Johnston’s Dundalk qualifier Watersmeet, who found this trip on the sharp side that day and is likely to be tapped for toe once again. The enigmatic Battalion is a smart operator on his day but is an unreliable betting proposition, while French raider Metropol has definite each-way claims after running well over course and distance twice this winter.

Best Bet: GRENDISAR (Nap)

3YO Sprint Final

There’s no shortage of depth in this five-furlong feature with David Evans’s Gracious John coming in for hefty support. He sets a demanding standard off his top rating of 109, with a Group 3 win on turf under his girth as well as a dominant victory in a Fast Track Qualifier at Kempton Park. He is also proven over course and distance and, according to his jockey John Egan, possesses “explosive power”. A good draw in stall two enhances his prospects.

Lingfield AW

However, Gracious John blotted his copybook in a qualifier at Chelmsford City last time, hanging badly right and almost running out off the home bend. He will have to run straight and true to win this and although he will be hard to beat if he runs his race, I’m prepared to take him on with David Barron’s progressive Wolowitz. Though drawn wide in stall eight, he will be well suited by the way this race is likely to be run and can build on his cosy Fast Track Qualifier win at Wolverhampton at potentially rewarding odds.

Best Bet: WOLOWITZ

3YO Mile Final

Mark Johnston’s Cape Speed can maintain his relentless progress and bridge the 5lb ratings gap with likely favourite Haalick. The son of Cape Cross has proven himself around Lingfield and has won twice over this trip already. There’s more to come and he can confirm his promise in a race that lacks quality from an ideal draw in stall three.

Haalick is going the right way for Roger Varian and enjoyed the run of the race to win the Listed Spring Cup over seven furlongs at Lingfield on his re-appearance. In contrast to Cape Speed, he must prove he stays a mile and although the signs arte good, he might just be vulnerable to a stronger finisher. Race Day was caught out at Listed level last time but stays well and looks a solid each-way proposition for Godolphin.

Best Bet: CAPE SPEED

Related

You’ll find more on All Weather Finals Day over in Coral’s horse racing section.