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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 Selections

At The Races’ All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft spotlights Saturday’s Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton and reveals his three best bets on the sand for the weekend.

Ornate the stand-out in fast track qualifier

With a whopping 18lb in hand of his highest rated rival, William Haggas’s Cheveley Park colt ORNATE should be able to book his place in the 3YO Sprint Final on Good Friday by winning Saturday’s Fast Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton (6.45).

The son of Bahamian Bounty came close to winning the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster in September, earning a lofty rating of 110, and is the stand-out runner on his sand debut in a conditions event won by Godolphin’s Portamento 12 months ago.

Charlie McBride’s Quatrieme Ami is the obvious danger. Rated 92, he supplemented his Windsor maiden success with a dramatic display of speed and acceleration in a course and distance nursery last month. Clearly still on the upgrade and with track experience in his locker, he is entitled to respect but a defeat of Ornate on these terms would be a surprise.

Classic can fly home for O’Meara

David O’Meara’s CLASSIC FLYER has finished off his races well in two six-furlong handicaps at Wolverhampton so looks sure to appreciate the step up in trip at Dunstall Park on Saturday (5.45). The gelding has been perked up by the application of a visor and resumes off the same mark he won off on turf back in the summer. Though untried at seven furlongs, he promises to see the trip out well and ought to get the benefit of a smooth trip from a decent draw in stall five.

Conor Dore’s veteran Clockmaker was an eye-catcher last time, finishing well behind subsequent winner Seychelloise, and should be able to race as prominently as he prefers from a similarly good draw. He is also on a fair mark but my preference is for the younger, less exposed O’Meara runner.

Verdon set to go one better

You couldn’t fail to be impressed by RED VERDON’S racecourse debut at Wolverhampton last month and he can go one better in the extended mile maiden (8.15) for Ed Dunlop and Pat Cosgrave. This well built colt made up a lot of ground from the home turn to get within a nose of the more experienced Coherent (ridden that day by Cosgrave) over the same trip.

I expect him to confirm that form with the third, Vizier, who may pose less of a threat than Godolphin’s newcomer Town’s History. Saeed Bin Suroor’s US bred colt hasn’t been granted the best of starting positions in stall 10 but hails from a powerful stable with a good record in these races and pilot Oisin Murphy has linked up well with the trainer in recent weeks.

Angel can mop up for Appleby

Keep a close eye on Mick Appleby’s team right now. The Newark trainer is among the winners and can extend that run with some notable performers in the next few days, including MOP’S ANGEL in the extended mile handicap at Wolverhampton on Saturday (6.15). Back from a summer break, she returns to the scene of her previous victory back in January and looks to have been found a good opportunity to get in the money. Stable apprentice Ali Rawlinson’s claim leaves her 4lb below that last winning mark and she can reverse Leicester form with Stun Gun over this new trip.

Appleby must also have an outstanding chance with the rapidly improving SUPERSTA if he re-appears at Chelmsford City on Monday. Despite his usual slow start, this powerful gelding cut through the field effortlessly to win off a 7lb lower mark at the Essex track last week. He missed an engagement at Wolverhampton on Saturday in favour of this race and looks well ahead of his revised mark.

The Newark trainer could also head to Lingfield on Monday with new recruit TAYSH, an interesting entry for the 10-furlong Coral Handicap (2.00). Bought well out of John Gosden’s yard, he won his maiden at the Surrey track under Frankie Dettori last year and looks the type that Appleby excels with. A good run from this unexposed sort off a mark of 87 on this return from a lay-off could have connections aspiring towards the Winter Derby and Coral Easter Classic next spring.

Kirby the super sub on Lightscameaction

Adam Kirby was at his brilliant best around Lingfield on Wednesday when he made every yard of the running on Gay Kelleway’s LIGHTCAMERACTION in the feature sprint. Sporting the cheekpieces for the first time, it was a welcome return from the doldrums for the winner of last season’s 3YO Sprint Final. Kirby was deputising for the gelding’s regular pilot and arch championship rival Luke Morris, who was on duty in France. Kelleway will now look to step him up to six furlongs, possibly in a visor or blinkers, in readiness for a crack at the Sprint Final on Good Friday.

BATTALION was also impressive in powering home in a tactical conditions race on that midweek Lingfield card, confirming himself on target for the big Middle Distance features in the New Year including the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic. He has developed into an accomplished 10-furlong performer and, for such a big horse, handles the sharp turns at the Surrey track particularly well. Crack miler Mindurownbusiness was disappointing in behind Battalion on this step up in trip and, though his effort was too flat to suggest he didn’t stay, will definitely be aimed at the Mile Final now.

Simon’s Best Bets:

CLASSIC FLYER (ew)
5.45 Wolverhampton (Saturday)

MOP’S ANGEL (ew)
6.15 Wolverhampton (Saturday)

RED VERDON (Nap)
8.15 Wolverhampton (Saturday)