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Simon Mapletoft on the AWC: Horses to follow – Marathon

Litigant, who won the first ever Marathon Final, will be a threat to all if he heads back to the sand following a remarkable comeback win in the Ebor this summer.

Joe Tuite produced one of the training performances of the season to bring 2014 Marathon winner Litigant back from a career-threatening injury to win the valuable Ebor Handicap at York in August. That was the seven-year-old’s fourth straight win and, given his light campaign, a winter on the All-Weather surely beckons. Much will depend on whether Tuite can keep him sound, but at least one two-mile Fast Track Qualifier en route to Good Friday’s Final could be at his mercy.

The four-year-old Anglophile was put away for the summer after just failing to overhaul Mymatechris in last season’s Final. Still unexposed over two miles, Charlie Appleby’s multiple Polytrack winner remains open to further improvement and could be the one who sets the standard this season. He has the speed to win over 11 furlongs, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him aimed at the valuable London Middle Distance Final he won last year.

Khusoosy, based with Godolphin’s Saeed Bin Suroor, boasts a similarly convincing profile. He avenged a luckless defeat when scoring over 11 furlongs at Kempton in September to earn a rating of 98. That puts him on the threshold of being competitive against the best stayers on the winter circuit in stakes races but with more surely yet to come, the US-bred gelding is another to keep on side.

Steve Rogers simply hasn’t looked back since winning a 12-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton in January. A winner over a mile and three-quarters and two miles on turf since, he looks potentially well handicapped in All-Weather terms off a mark in the high 80s. Trained by Roger Varian, the Montjeu gelding couldn’t be in better hands.

Last term’s Marathon hero Mymatechris has been saved for a follow-up campaign after being beaten by a Rugby score in two starts in turf in early summer. A modest gallop on Good Friday enabled him to call upon his 12-furlong speed but he was still 10lb worse off at the weights with runner-up Anglophile so his success cannot be questioned. This four-year-old from the Andrew Balding stable gives the impression he has more to offer against many of the same rivals he has already encountered.

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Another familiar name in this division is David Simcock’s Castilo Del Diablo, who has been freshened up for a winter campaign. Fourth to Litigant in the inaugural final, he often flies home with a trademark late run. When the cards fall for him, the six-year-old looks exciting and should win more races, notably at Lingfield and Kempton.

The way Sweeping Up improved to chase home Jack Hobbs in the Group Three September Stakes at Kempton suggests she can mature into a serious contender for the big marathon prizes. Hughie Morrison’s daughter of Sea The Stars saw out a mile and three-quarters well in a French Listed race a month later and, being unexposed on sand, will have more to offer in Fast Track Qualifiers if she heads back to the sand.

A young pretender is Roger Charlton’s Oasis Dream colt Clowance One, who showed that stamina is his strong suit when winning a mile and a half maiden at Kempton in early October. This son of top class stayer Clowance is far from the finished article but, given his low mileage, could be the sort to progress into a useful prospect for a team that has done well on the All-Weather with the likes of 2014 Mile champion Captain Cat.

Mark Johnston’s Watersmeet, who has won four times this year, boasts a fine record on the All-Weather. He rattled up a hat-trick at Chelmsford and Lingfield earlier in the year and is a dangerous opponent when allowed to dominate. He stays a mile and a half really strongly and looks capable of getting two miles. His dam Under The Rainbow certainly did and this four-year-old can make his presence felt in qualifiers.