SIMON SAYS – My 3 best bets week 4

At The Races All-Weather expert Simon Mapletoft looks ahead to this weekend’s two Fast Track Qualifiers at Lingfield Park and pinpoints three midweek bets.

The new All-Weather Championships season cranks up a notch on Saturday with a high quality card at Lingfield Park featuring the Churchill Stakes (3.10) – a Listed Fast Track Qualifier that promises to give us a valuable first insight into the Group Three Winter Derby in February and the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic on Finals Day the following month.

For me, the horse to focus on among the entries for the mile and a quarter showpiece is Saeed Bin Suroor’s exciting and lightly raced colt LET’S GO, a son of Street Cry who displayed his big race credentials when chasing home Classic hero Tryster in a valuable conditions event at Chelmsford City in September. That was only his fourth career start and, heading into Saturday’s race on an official mark of 110, he is already rated only 2lb lower than his illustrious Godolphin rival was back on Good Friday.

Charlie Appleby, who trains Dubai World Cup-bound Tryster, is hoping FESTIVE FARE shapes up into a Classic contender. This three-year-old has fully half a stone to find with Let’s Go but returns to the Polytrack unbeaten in both starts so far at Lingfield on debut and at Kempton in February. Since then the sparely campaigned Teofilo gelding has run some solid races in defeat on turf, including when two and a half lengths fourth to Golden Horn in the Listed Feilden Stakes in April.

Also among Saturday’s entries are John Gosden’s Godolphin owned Huxley Stakes winner MAVERICK WAVE, last year’s Churchill Stakes winner BATTALION, multiple All-Weather Listed scorer GRENDISAR and Sir Mark Prescott’s mare DON’T BE, who gained Listed success at Dundalk recently and could be open to improvement if she steps up in trip.

Another highlight at Lingfield on Saturday is the Listed Golden Rose Stakes (2.35), another Fast Track Qualifier for Good Friday Finals Day. This six-furlong sprint sees the likely return to the All-Weather of David Lanigan’s POLYBIUS, who has progressed well on turf with a Listed success at Newmarket and a Group Three third at Ascot. He was out of luck in this race last year when a car park draw denied him a fair crack at winner Intransigent. Now rated 108, he has the credentials to be a major player in this division.

Ivory gelding set for four-timer

Dean Ivory’s prolific SAN QUENTIN will be a popular choice in the closing 11-furlong handicap at Kempton on Wednesday (8.10) but is hard to oppose. The Radlett trainer was bullish about the four-year-old’s prospects this winter when I visited the yard with the Coral TV cameras recently and another success is on the cards. Despite rattling up a Wolverhampton hat-trick, Ivory’s grey can still race off a modest mark of 61 and Robert Winston – on board for every victory so far – has the key to him. San Quentin needs to be produced late so don’t expect to see him join the party too soon on a track that ought to play to his strengths.

Elusivity poised to strike

ELUSIVITY looks just the type of hose that trainer Conor Dore will excel with and I expect him to make an impact on his Fibresand debut in the first division of the five-furlong sprint handicap at Southwell on Thursday (1.50). A gelding who appreciates soft ground on turf, he should relish the testing nature of this surface and is beginning to look dangerously well handicapped. Elusivity posted an encouraging first effort for his new stable when staying on with purpose to be a close fourth at Nottingham off this mark last week.

Carrol makes right choice for Leonard

Tony Carroll’s decision to target the seven-furlong handicap (6.55) with LEONARD THOMAS instead of the more competitive mile event on the same card at Chelmsford City on Thursday can pay dividends. Carroll tells me the five-year-old is ready to win on the sand despite being rated 12lb higher, and the booking of Adam Kirby adds weight to his case. Running consistently on turf, Leonard Thomas gets the benefit of professional handling for the first time in five starts and looks to have been found an ideal opportunity.


8.10 Kempton (Wednesday)

1.50 Southwell (Thursday)

6.55 Chelmsford City (Thursday)