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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 – Weekend Selections

At The Races’ All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft looks back at a profitable week for Godolphin’s Saeed Bin Suroor and spotlights four horses for the weekend.

Profitable week for Godolphin handler

SAEED BIN SUROOR and his stable jockey James Doyle have dominated the action this week with a string of notable winners. Both ended the first month of the All-Weather Championships season with a strike rate of around 40 per cent thanks to well-bred colts like Let’s Go – winner of the Listed Churchill Stakes – and Race Day. He supplemented his novice stakes victory at Lingfield by following up in last weekend’s Fast Track Qualifier – a performance that has earned him a 6lb rise to an official mark of 100.

Newmarket 1000 day

While Race Day may well take his chance in the 3YO Mile Final come Easter, Wednesday’s Lingfield maiden winners Next Stage and Brave Hero could also develop into contenders for the £150,000 added showpiece. The former, a son of Dubawi, never had to be seriously extended by Doyle to beat a promising rival, while Brave Hero set a new track record in the second division of the mile contest. A powerfully built son of Poet’s Voice, he was particularly eye-catching and could prove very classy in due course.

Fighting on fire in listed feature

Fewer horses have a tougher constitution than Mark Johnston’s FIRE FIGHTING, who was having his 25th start of the year when winning the midweek feature, the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton on Wednesday evening. Supplementing his Listed success at Dundalk, the four-year-old travelled prominently in a race run to suit and found plenty for Adam Kirby to deny new trainer George Scott a dream debut winner with Hamelin. Fire Fighting may take his chance in the Coral Easter Classic on Good Friday but doesn’t seem able to produce his best over 10 furlongs on that sharp track.

South African filly sets the standard

James Tate’s Lamar has already qualified for the Fillies and mares Final at Lingfield on Good Friday – a race she finished an unlucky second in last season – but takes her chance in another Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton on Friday night (6.45) when she comes up against a Grade One winner from South Africa.


COLD AS ICE has never raced on an artificial surface but developed into a top class performer in her native country and sets a demanding standard off a top rating of 110. Now with William Haggas, she looks worthy of her lofty mark and has impressed in her homework under Friday night’s jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe – the man who guided ace South African sprinter J J The Jetplane to victory in Group Two company in Dubai in 2011. A regular front-runner, Cold As Ice is unlikely to get an uncontested lead with the likes of Maggie Pink and Invoke in opposition, but may be happy to take a tow into the race and can stamp her class when it counts.

Dascombe recruit ready to collect

Watch out for MR CHRISTOPHER in the opening leg of the seven-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton (6.45) on Saturday. This gelding flopped over hurdles before joining Tom Dascombe but has shown definite signs of promise since. He couldn’t get into the argument when well backed to win a six-furlong handicap at the track on his stable debut in October but showed much more when getting within half a length of a rival rated 22lb superior in a maiden at Dunstall Park last week.

In fact, had he not been pestered by a free-running rival he may well have obliged that day. This son of Bahamian Bounty has clearly found improvement and can capitalise on a lowly mark on this slight step up in trip with an attacking draw in his favour. Gulland Rock shaped as though a try over seven here will suit when staying on to be fourth at Lingfield and rates an obvious danger.

Furtado has ideal race for Yorkshire

Brazilian Ivan Furtado, a former assistant to top trainer Roger Charlton, has made a big impression in his first year with a license from his Wiseton base near Doncaster and can boost his profile further with new recruit YORKSHIRE in division two of the seven-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton on Saturday (7.15).

Furtado has improved the likes of Zaeem, Royal Acquisition and Instill this year. Now Yorkshire has the opportunity to make a winning start for his new trainer after staying on to be second in a similar race at Kempton last time. He was a beaten favourite that day for David O’Meara, but may be better suited by this quicker surface. He faces some questionable opponents and is preferred to Grey Destiny, who was staying on at the end of a six-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton last time and should appreciate the extra furlong. What’s more, the talented Oisin Murphy – among the top jockeys so far – is a notable booking.

Prescott stayer in charge

THE STEWARD should be firmly in charge in the Coral Handicap (8.15) at Wolverhampton on Saturday night. Sir Mark Prescott’s four-year-old could still be ahead of the handicapper in the mile and a half feature, despite winning at Kempton last time. Before that he got to the girth of Hamelin over this course and distance, a horse who has gone on to finish second in two Listed races at Kempton. Champion jockey Luke Morris takes the ride.

Southwell specialist Love U Whatever proved that he is no one trick pony when giving the smart Godolphin stayer Gold Trail a scare at Dunstall Park last season. He resumes off only 2lb higher for a trainer who has enjoyed a 33 per cent strike rate at the track this season but fitness has to be taken on trust on this first start since the spring. A bigger threat may be Charlie Appleby’s Sparring, who notched a hat-trick early in the year, could be on a fair mark and enjoys a weight for age allowance, but he too has been absent since April.

Best Bets:

6.45 Wolverhampton (Friday)

5.45 Wolverhampton (Saturday)

7.15 Wolverhampton (Saturday)

8.15 Wolverhampton (Saturday)