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Simon Mapletoft – Mid-Week Selections

| 21.01.2016

Appleby has strong hand in marathon fast track

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has been uncharacteristically quiet so far this year but could launch a strong two-pronged attack on the latest Fast Track Qualifier for Good Friday, a two-mile conditions event at Lingfield Park this Saturday (2.55). Possibles in the quest to clinch a guaranteed place in the £150,000 Marathon Final are last year’s runner-up ANGLOPHILE and the classy PINZOLO – a horse Appleby has earmarked for a crack at the big prize since last summer.

Anglophile was a shade unlucky not to beat Mymatechris last Easter, getting into full stride just too late to reel in the Andrew Balding rival. He has done well for a summer break since and may have just needed his two runs so far, when finishing second to Famous Kid at Chelmsford and the smart Moonrise Landing at Wolverhampton in December. One-time Derby hope Pinzolo has never raced over Saturday’s trip of two miles but stamina looked his strong suit when he dug deep to win a mile and three-quarter conditions race at Chelmsford back in May.

Lingfield Good Friday

Another interesting entry is George Scott’s Hamelin, who has finished second in two Listed races on sand at Kempton and also promises to stay the Marathon trip, while Amanda Perrett’s Blue Surf – a work partner of last week’s impressive winner and Final hope Arch Villain – will be out to build on his decent comeback third to the smart Barye over a shorter trip last time. Watch out also for Andrew Balding’s Ballynanty, who is potentially better than he has shown in handicaps over shorter at Wolverhampton and Chelmsford but will need to get it right against this level of opposition.

Channon has a willing volunteer

VOLUNTEER POINT booked her place in Good Friday’s Fillies and Mares Final with a smart performance in last Saturday’s Fast Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City. She travelled smartly behind hot favourite Lamar and the unexposed My Call before asserting close home in the seven-furlong feature under a confident Graham Gibbons. The northern jockey told me he always had his rivals covered on a filly he believes has the speed and turn of foot to cope with Lingfield come Finals Day.

Lamar was always going to find this fast seven on the sharp side and so it proved, though her jockey Luke Morris told me he felt the race might have come a little too quickly following her win at Lingfield only a week earlier. She may step up in trip in the Winter Derby and Coral Easter Classic before a likely date at stud with the mighty Frankel. Runner-up My Call ran well, stepping up in trip, but had no answer to the winner’s thrust and may be better suited by a return to six furlongs.

Horse Racing - Chelmsford City Racecourse

Gracious books sprint final ticket

John Egan is full of praise for young sprinter GRACIOUS JOHN and rode him as though defeat was out of the question in last Sunday’s Fast Track Qualifier for the 3YO Sprint Final at Kempton Park. David Evans’ starlet proved just as effective over six furlongs as he did over the Final trip of five at Lingfield previously and will be a tough opponent to all come Easter weekend. Egan compares him to his dual Group One winner Les Arcs and believes Good Friday will prove a stepping stone to Pattern success.

Gordon set to be in big demand

I’ve been singing the praises of young apprentice JOSEPHINE GORDON for a few weeks now so it was satisfying to see her ride out her 7lb claim in quick time on Phil McEntee’s Gentlemen at Chelmsford last midweek. Unsurprisingly the winners have continued to flow, among them the David Evans stayer Paddy’s Motorbike at Wolverhampton on Monday. Based with Stan Moore in Lambourn, Gordon is coached by former Derby winning jockey John Reid and continues to blaze a trail as leading apprentice. She will certainly be hot property with that 5lb claim in coming weeks so keep her on side!

Haggas debutant on workable mark

William Haggas’s RAHYAH divided two highly promising fillies in a Chelmsford maiden two weeks ago and looks one to be with on her handicap debut over a mile at Kempton Park on Wednesday (5.10). Winner Nezwaah is regarded as Pattern class by connections but Haggas’s runner was only a length and a half behind her so could be well treated off an opening mark of 70.

I prefer Rahyah to two previous winners, Jazzy and Frozen Force. The former carries a penalty for landing a mile and a half maiden at the Sunbury track last week but will find this test much sharper, while the latter could have more to offer following a narrow victory over course and distance in December but doesn’t look open to as much improvement as my selection.

Keep faith in Oakley Girl

Wolverhampton Races

OAKLEY GIRL sidestepped last week’s commitment at Chelmsford City but the mile fillies’ handicap at Kempton on Wednesday (5.40) looks a much better opportunity for Stuart Williams’ progressive four-year-old. Advised ahead of her win over a similar trip at Wolverhampton last time, Oakley Girl can give weight away all round as she takes another step towards a crack at gaining some important Black Type.

Newmarket trainer Williams continues in flying form. His Royal Birth came from last to first to win the feature sprint handicap at Chelmsford last weekend while Welease Bwian, Fable Of Arachne, Invade, Ohsosecret and, of course, Oakley Girl, have more than maintained his impressive strike rate in the past fortnight.

Schoolboy looks top of class

Jamie Osborne’s SCHOOLBOY ERROR came within an ace of winning on his handicap debut at Wolverhampton, when an unexposed Roger Varian rival got up to deny him in the shadow of the post. This half-brother to Ascot Gold Cup winner Trip To Paris re-appears off the same lowly mark over a similar trip at Chelmsford City on Thursday (5.10) and is worth another chance in what looks a weaker race. This three-year-old looks like he’s taking off from the right end of the handicap and can continue a good run on the All-Weather for his in-form trainer.

My Best Bets

5.10 Kempton Park, Wednesday

5.40 Kempton Park, Wednesday

5.10 Chelmsford City, Thursday



Simon Mapletoft

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