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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 – Mid-Week Selections

Anglophile out to go one better

Godolphin’s smart stayer ANGLOPHILE has booked his place in the Marathon Final on Good Friday and his trainer Charlie Appleby is looking forward to a big performance from the gelding, who finished a close second in last season’s showpiece. The five-year-old won last weekend’s Fast Track Qualifier at Lingfield for the second year in succession and looks back to his best.

Lingfield Good Friday

Appleby feels it took a couple of runs for the son of Dubawi to reach peak fitness after doing so well physically during a long summer break. He is a potent force when able to challenge off a strong pace, as he demonstrated last week, and will be a worthy challenger come Finals Day. Whether he can turn the tables on Wolverhampton victor Moonrise Landing in the big one remains to be seen, however. Ralph Beckett’s filly won that Fast Track Qualifier with some ease back in December and sets the standard at this stage.

D’Arcy sprinter Springs into Final picture

SPRING LOADED claimed some notable scalps when he won Lingfield’s feature sprint last week and could yet make the necessary progress to claim a place in the £150,000 Sprint Final come Good Friday. Paul d’Arcy’s four-year-old has progressed well this winter and looked as though there is more to come when beating the in-form Boomerang Bob.

Winning off a mark of 89, he will ideally need to follow up when he re-appears on 20th February to stand a chance of making the cut, and being competitive at the weights in the Final. However, another career best is certainly not beyond a young horse who has now proven himself around Lingfield’s sharp turns. Behind him in a close fourth was the gelded Boom The Groom, who is a smart performer on his day and will have delighted his trainer Tony Carroll on his first start of the season.

Williams winning machine rolls on

Realize

Stuart Williams’ statistics on the All-Weather over the last couple of seasons make impressive reading and he could have a serious Good Friday contender on his hands in the progressive REALIZE. Bought last year with a winter campaign in mind, the six-year-old scooped a £45,000 handicap at Lingfield last week, which should seal his place in the line-up for the £150,000 Mile Final.

Though successful over seven furlongs at the Surrey track, he is equally at home over an additional furlong as he proved at Chelmsford City in December and thrives around Lingfield. In between those wins, he gave smart South African filly Cold As Ice a scare despite being at a disadvantage at the weights in a Chelmsford conditions race. Connections paid 52,000gns last May for the son of Zafeen who is already well on his way to repaying that considerable price tag. Indeed, Williams assures me “we’re still getting to know him”, so don’t rule out further improvement.

Franklin to stake Classic claims

A Coral Easter Classic dark horse returns to the track at Lingfield on Wednesday and I expect him to take a considerable step towards the £200,000 Good Friday feature. FRANKLIN D stands out in the Coral Handicap (3.10) over the Final course and distance.

Michael Bell’s four-year-old looked a smart prospect when scoring at the Surrey venue in November and ought to be capable of defying a fair 4lb rise if connections hope to get him into the Classic line-up. Franklin D stays the 10 furlongs well and demonstrated a useful turn of foot to make up a lot of ground off a steady pace last time. Lightly raced and open to the necessary improvement, I expect him to win again in the hands of Jamie Spencer and nudge his rating up around the 100 mark.

Ex-Godolphin six-year-old Winterlude is another strong traveller who looked to be back to his best at Wolverhampton last time and he could prove the danger under leading Lingfield pilot George Baker. Similarly, Whispering Warrior seems to be improving race by race after a long lay-off but both look vulnerable to their unexposed, younger rival.

Go on, Adam!

Top jockey Adam Kirby holds the aces in the six-furlong three-year-old handicap at Kempton on Wednesday (6.10). He partners the potentially useful GO ON GO ON GO ON who won a decent Wolverhampton maiden in good style last month and looks fairly treated off an opening mark of 78.

Clive Cox’s daughter of Medicean has only had two starts, finishing second to a more experienced rival at Kempton on debut, and can get the better of some useful but exposed opposition including Kingsley Klarion. Mark Johnston’s colt continues to run well without getting his head in front but remains 5lb ahead of his latest winning mark. More of a threat could be Marco Botti’s All-Weather debutant Dream Mover, who won a Nottingham maiden in July before finding the company too hot in the Group Three Acomb Stakes at York.

‘Go to’ girl Gordon to strike again

UPTIGHT with S Gray wins Handicap stakes at Southwell 19-1-16.

Top Northern trainer Kevin Ryan is the latest to join the growing fan club of apprentice find Josephine Gordon, who looks the perfect match for his UPTIGHT in the five-furlong handicap at Southwell on Thursday (2.10). Uptight bolted up over course and distance last week under Shane Gray and is well in for this return to the Fibresand.

Gordon’s 5lb claim means he is only 1lb higher than he was for that explosive Southwell debut. What’s more, he is due to go up to a new mark of 81 from Saturday so effectively has a whopping 7lb in hand. The gelding was sparked to life by first time blinkers last time and as long as they have a positive effect again he must be hard to beat.

My Best Bets

FRANKLIN D (Nap)
3.10 Lingfield Park, Wednesday

GO ON GO ON GO ON
6.10 Kempton Park, Wednesday

UPTIGHT
2.10 Southwell, Thursday