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Simon Mapletoft on the AWC: Stable Tours – Richard Fahey

Alben Star, who won the inaugural Sprint Final and finished second in the race last season, is back from injury and aiming for another crack at the Good Friday showpiece.

Flying the All-Weather flag for Musley Bank Stables will be top level sprinter ALBEN STAR, who won the inaugural running of the Sprint Final and then chased home hot favourite Pretend in last season’s renewal. Placed in big handicaps like the Stewards Cup and the Wokingham on turf, this seven-year-old gelding thrives around Lingfield and returns to action following a break. “He’s had a setback but will be back to run in all those top sprint races including the Final,” says his trainer Richard Fahey.

Al Shaqab racing’s three-year-old Farham could be a dark horse in the Mile or Middle Distance divisions. The gelded son of Smart Strike is back in full work after missing the 2015 turf season but showed definite promise in two maidens at Sandown and Ayr as a juvenile. “He’s had feet problems but is a nice horse who could do well on the All-Weather. He’ll probably start over a mile but will get 10 furlongs,” says Fahey.

Home Cummins has yet to race on sand but is another who is coming back from a long lay-off with some valuable targets in mind. “She’s had a wind operation and will be up to running in Listed races. Seven furlongs around Lingfield should be ideal for her so the Fillies and Mares Final could be a realistic target,” adds Fahey. The three-year-old daughter of Rip Van Winkle won a valuable nursery at Doncaster in 2014 before disappointing in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket on her final start.

Last winter Luis Vaz De Torres sprung a 66-1 shock in a six-furlong Wolverhampton maiden and proved that was no fluke by chasing home subsequent Sprint Final runner-up Blue Aegean and justifying favouritism in a five-furlong Pontefract handicap in July. Lightly campaigned since, he will be back to contest more sprint handicaps with room for manoeuvre off a rating of 77. “He ran well back at Pontefract in October and is open to improvement,” insist his trainer.

Also successful on the sand last season was the useful Patrick, who also made a winning debut, this time over six furlongs at Lingfield in January. “He’s progressed nicely this year and remains relatively unexposed on sand,” adds Fahey. “He’s had a break and will probably be back after Christmas with some of those valuable sprint handicaps on his agenda.” Patrick has run well at Chelmsford and wasn’t beaten far on the Southwell Fibresand in February. He resumes on a workable mark of 88.

Fahey is also planning to bring All-Weather stalwart Mica Mika back, though opportunities may be limited for a gelding who has worked his way up to a rating of 90. “He’ll be eight next so we might have to look at running him in a few nice claimers,” he adds. Mica Mika’s three All-Weather wins in a career that has seen him top £100,000 in prize money have come on the old Polytrack surface at Wolverhampton.