Under starters orders for the new season: Simon Mapletoft writes exclusively for Coral
Simon Mapletoft begins his exclusive blog for News.Coral.co.uk. The Sky Sports At The Races presenter looks at ones to watch, trainer profiles and much more as we head into this season All Weather Championship’s.
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby goes into the third annual All-Weather Championships as hot favourite to retain the title he won last year with an impressive haul of 76 winners – three of them on Finals Day. Appleby, who won the Middle Distance feature last term, the Coral
Easter Classic, with Dubai World Cup-bound Tryster, will set a demanding standard to his rivals in terms of both quality and depth.
Another Appleby, Newark based Mick, has finished second in the first two All-Weather Championships, firstly to Mark Johnston and then to Godolphin’s prolific handler. Poised to unleash another big team, he excels around his local track Southwell where last winter 30 winners came at a strike rate of 22 per cent.
Tony Carroll, with a total of 40 winners, was third in the trainers’ table and can be relied upon to saddle plenty more this winter, while higher profile trainers John Gosden, Marco Botti and Andrew Balding will again be a force in the better races. Watch out, also, for David Simcock, whose 25 per cent strike rate last season represented an unparalleled level stakes profit of over £70.
Champion trainer Appleby will once again link up with top jockey Adam Kirby, who rode 35 winners for the Godolphin stable last winter at a stunning strike rate of 45 per cent. With such backing, the Newmarket jockey should have an outstanding chance of retaining the title he narrowly lost to Luke Morris.
Morris became the first ever jockey to reach a winter century when he beat Kirby to the championship last season and, despite not having the support of a major stable, looks certain to be in demand again. Remarkably, Morris rode for over 100 trainers last winter en route to that record breaking tally of 102.
Launched on Thursday 29th October, the new season reaches a valuable climax on Good Friday when the best horses will again compete for a share of £1.1 million in prize money across seven championship races, including the richest All-Weather race in Europe, the 10-furlong Coral Easter Classic. The Championships will feature seven categories: the 3YO Sprint, the 3YO Mile, the Fillies & Mares, the Sprint, the Mile, the Marathon and the Middle Distance.
To qualify for Good Friday, horses must run a minimum of three times at Lingfield, Kempton, Southwell, Wolverhampton or Chelmsford City and hope they achieve a high enough rating to make the cut. Alternatively they can guarantee a place on Finals Day by winning one of 28 Fast Track Qualifiers. Horses in Ireland and France will have the opportunity to compete in Fast Track events in their respective countries, where the three-run rule has been introduced to encourage more international competition.