Winter Oaks: Al Agaila leads Lingfield betting
Following three placed efforts last summer, Al Agaila bolted up when opening her account at Kempton last month before following up in similarly impressive style in the Winter Oaks Trial over this course and distance just before Christmas.
An 11lb hike makes life significantly tougher, but a bold bid can nevertheless be expected in the £100,000 all-weather feature of Lingfield’s Winter Million Festival.
“She went up 11lb for her win last time out, when she won very impressively. She’s an improving filly, but 11lb is a big hike,” said Ed Crisford.
“She has a good draw (stall two). It’s a big step up, but if she can carry the 11lb extra then I’m sure she’s capable of better things. She’s potentially an exciting filly.”
Coral’s John Hill said: “Al Agaila won the Winter Oaks Trial last month, and she is the warm favourite to successfully follow up in the feature at Lingfield on what is a big afternoon for all-weather racing.”
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) December 22, 2022
Makinmedoit was beaten two and a half lengths into second place by Al Agaila little over four weeks ago and does have a significant pull at the weights.
“Makinmedoit has been a star really and just keeps on improving,” said trainer Harry Eustace.
“We’re 10lb better at the weights with the Crisford horse, which probably won’t be enough, but we came from a long way back that day and there’s less runners this time round, which is extraordinary given the prize money. If we could just sit a bit closer, you never know.”
Eustace has a second string to his bow in At A Pinch, who has not run on the Flat since 2021 but is fit from a recent spell over obstacles and priced at 33/1.
Eustace added: “With At A Pinch, the money was just too good not to roll the dice with her. She was bought to be a hurdler, but she’s got Flat form and there’s no reason why she can’t run a race.
“I was actually looking at the prize money for Cheltenham the other day and if she was the very best hurdler we had going there, she’d be running for £125,000 added prize money and she can run for £100,000 added in an eight-runner fillies’ handicap, so we’ll just see how we go.
“It’s extraordinary there’s less runners this time round than for the trial race a month ago. Everyone moans about prize money, they put it on and no one goes for it, but there we are.”
Get ready for all the action on the All-Weather Track tomorrow for The Winter Million.
Who will be the talkSPORT Winter Oaks winner for 2023?
— Lingfield Park (@LingfieldPark) January 20, 2023
Another trainer firing a twin assault is Charlie Fellowes, with top-weight Purple Ribbon joined by stablemate Tequilamockingbird (12/1).
Purple Ribbon steps back into a fillies’ handicap after finishing second to the highly-rated Belloccio in the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton in November, while Tequilamockingbird was only a short head behind Makinmedoit when third in the Winter Oaks Trial.
“Purple Ribbon is a very lightly-raced filly, but she’s very consistent. Barring an unfortunate run around Lingfield, she’s not finished out of the first two,” said Fellowes.
“She ran a blinder last time out in a pretty competitive Listed race. She’s got the class in the race, but she has to give weight away to everyone, which will be tough.
“But she’s a pretty good filly and I’ve got no concerns about the drop back to 10 furlong as she’s got plenty of speed, so I’m looking forward to seeing her run.
“Tequilamockingbird is a model of consistency and has a very good record around Lingfield – 10 furlongs around there is literally perfect for her.
“She was a bit unlucky last time out when they went absolutely no gallop and off a stronger pace, she goes in there with a nice each-way squeak.”
Winter Oaks betting odds
11/10 Al Agaila
10/3 Morgan Fairy
11/2 Purple Ribbon
11/1 Aiming High
33/1 At A Pinch
50/1 The Flying Ginger
All odds and market correct at date of publication