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About Simon:

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 – Weekend Review & Mid-Week Selections

At The Races’ All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft spotlights the key performers on the sand over the weekend and pinpoints his best midweek bets.

Festive looks a Classic contender

Charlie Appleby told me back in the Autumn that FESTIVE FARE had the credentials to be a Coral Easter Classic contender and his performance in a valuable Wolverhampton handicap on Saturday confirms his belief. Racing for the first time since being gelded, the Godolphin three-year-old powered away from a quality field to stake his claim for the big Middle Distance events in the New Year.

The nine and a half-furlong victory extends his record to three from three on the All-Weather and he now looks likely to be rated close to Godolphin’s impressive Churchill Stakes winner Let’s Go (110). Jockey Adam Kirby echoed Appleby’s thoughts after Saturday’s race so expect to see him step up in class in the Listed Winter Derby Trial in February, the Group Three Winter Derby and possibly the richest race of them all, the Coral Easter Classic on Good Friday.

Fast track winner Moonrise could be Group class

Horse Racing - Lingfield Park Racecourse

On paper, MOONRISE LANDING had her work cut out to beat the likes of Famous Kid and Anglophile in Saturday’s Fast Track Qualifier for the All-Weather Championships Marathon Final, but answered every question at Wolverhampton. She cruised to victory in the extended two-mile feature to clinch her place in the Good Friday line-up and leave jockey Jim Crowley dreaming of bigger things.

The filly has done nothing but improve in the second half of the year, winning a mile and a half handicap at Newmarket before stepping up to two miles successfully at Kempton. However, she took her form to a new level on the Tapeta, progressing again off a mark of 96. She had 9lb to find with hot favourite Famous Kid, who probably didn’t stay, but her defeat of last season’s Marathon Final runner-up Anglophile was a better barometer of her rapid improvement. On this evidence, she will be a real force at Lingfield in March but Crowley believes she could make her presence felt in Group races on turf.

Coyle has Final dreams for Westwood

WESTWOOD HOE overcame a wide draw to make a winning Fibresand debut in Southwell’s feature seven-furlong handicap on Saturday and will now be aimed at the Mile Final at Lingfield on Good Friday. Malton trainer Tony Coyle, who bought him out of John Gosden’s stable for just 16,000gns earlier this year, feels he could surprise a few people on the Polytrack. The Oasis Dream gelding is already proven over that course and distance, having won his maiden there for Gosden, and may be capable of progressing further through the ranks in his next two qualifying runs.

Another weekend winner destined for Finals Day could be Godolphin’s My Call. Saeed Bin Suroor’s filly overcame a long lay-off, a wide draw and a lack of experience to beat a competitive field of six-furlong handicappers at Wolverhampton on Saturday. That was only her third career start and the victory should see her rating rise to a mark in the mid-90s. With more improvement to come, she could yet prove a genuine contender for the Sprint Final, or even the Fillies’ And Mares’ showpiece over seven furlongs.

Winning chance for Severini

Newbury Thursday

Richard Hughes’ speedy colt SEVERINI has been found a winning opportunity in the seven-furlong maiden at Kempton on Wednesday (5.10) after an eye-catching debut at Lingfield Park last month. The son of Shamardal was well supported at the Surrey track and set a furious pace before being reeled in by the hugely promising Godolphin newcomer Brave Hero.

That race was run in a course record time and Severini deserves much of the credit for that. The drop back in trip looks ideal and more patient tactics should see him prevail at the possible expense of James Tate’s Pirate’s Treasure. He ran on well when the penny dropped at Wolverhampton on his only previous racecourse appearance and can go well for a trainer who has made an impressive start to the season (5-17).

O’Meara recruit on appealing mark

David O’Meara has made his reputation by improving older horses from other yards and I expect FIRMAMENT to add his name to an impressive list including Amazing Maria, Birdman and So Beloved. The Irishman has found an ideal opening for the three-year-old in the mile handicap at Kempton (6.10) on Wednesday.

Firmament, a 25,000gns purchase out of Jeremy Noseda’s stable at the October Sales, made an eye-catching start for new connections when staying on well to be third off a mark of 83 in a mile handicap at Chelmsford City on 7th December. With stable apprentice Josh Doyle taking 5lb off, the son of Cape Cross appears dangerously well handicapped on a track that will suit his style.

Williams to continue storming run

Welease_Bwian

Newmarket trainer Stuart Williams has been in red hot form and can notch another success with sprinter WELEASE BWIAN in division one of the six-furlong handicap at Lingfield on Wednesday (1.05). He posted a decent effort on his return from a two-month break when overcoming a slow start to chase home the useful Dougan over course and distance last month.

Welease Bwian was eased 1lb for that performance which crucially allows him to drop in grade, despite racing off his last winning All-Weather mark. Proven around Lingfield’s tight turns, the six-year-old is preferred to the consistent New Rich, who finished well at the Surrey track last time despite being hampered at a crucial stage. Eve Johnson Houghton’s gelding has the credentials to win one of these but isn’t ideally drawn in stall 10.

Midweek Best Bets:

WELEASE BWIAN
1.05 Lingfield, Wednesday

SEVERINI (Nap)
5.10 Kempton, Wednesday

FIRMAMENT
6.10 Kempton, Wednesday