Simon Mapletoft – Mid-Week Selections
No stopping wonder mare Lamar
As we reach the half-way point in the third annual All-Weather Championships, James Tate’s gallant mare LAMAR must be a leading contender for All-Weather horse of the season. She posted her third win of the winter when beating a stellar line-up in a mile conditions race at Lingfield last Saturday and is set to make a quick re-appearance in this weekend’s Fast Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City.
Victory in the seven-furlong feature on Saturday would be her third Fast Track Qualifying success already, following wins in the Listed Fleur De Lys Stakes at Lingfield on the opening day and another at Wolverhampton at the end of November. The daughter of Cape Cross has also finished a creditable third in the Listed Quebec Stakes over a mile and a quarter against the boys.
Connections are keen to breed from Lamar eventually but are clearly enjoying her winning streak and deserve great credit for being sporting enough to keep on racing. She isn’t short of options leading up to Finals Day on Good Friday when she may attempt to atone for her unlucky second in the Fillies & Mares last season, even though seven furlongs around Lingfield is on the sharp side for her.
Fast track double header
Lamar is the stand-out contender for Saturday’s Fillies & Mares Fast Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City, but the race has also attracted an entry for Saeed Bin Suroor’s lightly raced MY CALL, an impressive winner over six furlongs at Wolverhampton in November. The daughter of Shamardal has never attempted a trip this far but promises to see it out well.
Adding more quality to the line-up could be Mick Channon’s Volunteer Point, who has taken her form to a new level on the All-Weather. A winner around Chelmsford in handicap company before Christmas, she struck the front in a Listed Fast Track Qualifier in France over the holiday, only to be reeled in close home. Nevertheless, her respectable fourth reads well in the context of this race and she must be respected.
On Sunday, Kempton Park stages a Fast Track feature for the 3YO Sprint category. This could be at the mercy of the David Evans-trained GRACIOUS JOHN, who looked more than useful when beating a 110-rated rival at Lingfield last week. Indeed, his jockey John Egan has likened him to his dual Group One winner Les Arcs and he can claim his place in the Good Friday Final.
Hughes stayer has marathon credentials
Shane Kelly is looking forward to putting BARYE’S stamina to the test over two miles following another impressive display around Lingfield last week. Richard Hughes’ progressive young stayer has now won two handicaps over a mile and a half at the Surrey track and will be stepped up in trip with the Marathon Final in mind, suggests the Irishman. “Richard is thinking of running him over a mile and three quarters next before trying him over two miles, the Final trip. You never truly know until you take a chance but he certainly gives me the impression he will see it out well and we know that he handles the track,” says Kelly.
Chookie to confirm wolves form
CHOOKIE ROYALE overcame a potentially tricky draw to beat Group Three winner Sir Maximilian at Wolverhampton last time but can confirm the form with that rival when he returns to Kempton Park for a six-furlong conditions event on Wednesday evening (6.10). Already a winner at the Sunbury track, Keith Dalgleish’s flamboyant chestnut is much better berthed in stall three to adopt his usual dominant tactics.
Sir Maximilian probably just needed the run behind Chookie Royale on his return from a long lay-off and is entitled to be sharper, though the minimum trip seems to suit him better. This will be his last run before he flies out to Dubai to run in the big sprint races at the Carnival. Another interesting rival is Richard Fahey’s Alben Star, the 2014 Sprint Champion who makes his return to the track having finished second in last year’s Final.
Keep faith in Oakley girl
In form OAKLEY GIRL, advised in last week’s Blog, can follow-up her 9-4 victory at Wolverhampton when she re-appears in the 10-furlong Class 4 handicap at Chelmsford City on Wednesday (2.55). Stuart Williams believes his improving filly could be Listed class and I expect her to defy a 6lb penalty. She is due to go up a further 3lb from Saturday so is certainly ahead of the handicapper.
She looks capable of giving weight away all-round, including to stable companion Pactolus who has been running well but will need to improve again to win this. Berlusca was back to winning ways at Wolverhampton but isn’t the easiest to predict so may have to settle for minor honours away from his favoured Tapeta.
Gordon has claims on Jaarih
Josephine Gordon, the apprentice find of the season, can extend her lead at the top of the claimers’ table when she partners George Scott’s lightly raced class dropper JAARIH in the classified claimer at Southwell on Thursday. Her 5lb claim, coupled with a price tag of just £8,000, puts the powerfully built four-year-old on a favourable mark in this five-furlong dash.
Jaarih caught my eye when finishing a close second to the 73-rated Picket Line in a Wolverhampton maiden in December. A 70,000gns purchase as a yearling, he remains unexposed and the record of his Fibresand-winning half-brother Danish Duke suggests he will be at home on this testing surface.
2.55 Chelmsford City, Wednesday
CHOOKIE ROYALE (Nap)
6.10 Kempton Park, Wednesday
12.30 Southwell, Thursday