All-Weather Championships: Tom Lee's Blog & Tips For Lingfield & Wolverhampton

If weather forecasts aren't your thing then head for the all-weather!

Plummeting temperatures, icy conditions, waterlogging, snow and strong winds have all played their part over the past seven days, leading to abandonments of turf fixtures at Lingfield Park (Tuesday), Catterick (Friday) and Musselburgh (today), with hard-working Clerks at various tracks nervously scanning the meteorological updates hoping for good news.

It's not as easy as reaching for the pipe and slippers if you are overseeing the nation's all-weather venues, but happily no such problems have been reported at the likes of Chelmsford, Kempton, Wolverhampton, Southwell or Lingfield, all of which during the last week have successfully staged at least one fixture respectively, on surfaces built to withstand all but the most severe of conditions.

So, who has been making the headlines?

In the increasingly exciting build-up to the £1m Good Friday 'All-Weather Championships' a grand total of zero fast track qualifiers have been staged since I last posted on these pages, but don't be fooled into thinking nothing of note has taken place, far from it...

Doubtless everyone will have their own take on this, but a performance which leapt off the page was the one produced by Saeed bin Suroor's Raven's Pass filly Greatest Journey, as she steam-rollered her rivals at Kempton Park on Wednesday night. 

Ascot Races : News Photo

Sealing a four-timer (after wins at Wolverhampton twice, Lingfield and Kempton), she was winning off a mark of 89 after beginning her winning streak off just 63 in late November, bounding clear in the hands of the ever-improving Ali Rawlinson. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and a weapon sadly not available to punters, but what a bet she was at Wolverhampton on November 24th, lining up off that lowly mark in a Class 5 handicap, at odds of 5/2!! 

Beautifully bred - out of a Montjeu mare - it'll be no surprise if connections aim her at the Fillies & Mares Championship race on April 3rd at Lingfield Park. 

Also making waves at the Sunbury venue on Wednesday was Actonetaketwo, with the Ron Hodges-trained mare securing the second win of her 24-race career, and in doing so providing us with the biggest-priced winner of the week on the all-weather.

Her SP? Hearty congratulations in the unlikely event you backed her, as she returned at a bookmaker friendly 'double carpet', or 33/1 to you and me!

Other displays of note were in and out of the saddle, with trainer David O'Meara and his trusted lieutenant in the saddle Danny Tudhope enjoying a profitable journey to Southwell on Tuesday, earning enough to pay the diesel money with a near 11/1 double, courtesy of 7/2 scorer Toto Skyllachy in the claimer, followed up with 13/8 shot Risk 'N' Reward an hour and a half later. 

The duo earn extra praise for their handling of Risk' N' Reward, sending him back to Southwell 48 hours later to complete a quickfire double, dropping in trip to six furlongs on Thursday afternoon to take the Unibet Racing App Handicap under a six pound penalty. 

Wolverhampton Races : News Photo

They also raced among the snow flurries on Wolverhampton's Tapeta surface on Thursday, conditions which appeared to bring out the best in handler Ed McMahon's team at the Midlands track, with a 95/1 double the end product after wins for 7/1 Sakhee's Rose and 11/1 Let Right Be Done, both partnered by Graham Gibbons

Gibbons wasn't the only jockey leaving an all-weather track two winners to the good on Thursday, as Graham Lee recorded a neat one-two of his own, this time at Southwell.

At 8/1 Richard Ford's Insolenceoffice got him off to a flyer in the opening 'Unibet Offer Daily Jockey/Trainer Specials Handicap', before James Given's 70-rated 9/2 joint-favourite Bushel benefitted from some typically strong handling from the Galway-born rider, getting up to win by a neck after a sluggish start, in the process completing a 48/1 double for Lee. 

He's a rider thriving on the all-weather, much like Adam Kirby, who continued to blaze a trail at Lingfield Park on Saturday afternoon, tormenting the bookmakers by winning aboard 5/2 favourite Gabrial's Wawa, before rounding off a 6/1 double on even money shot Gold Trail

Kirby has been the beneficiary of the serious firepower deployed on the all-weather by Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby, who over the weekend had five runners spread across Lingfield and Chelmsford, the net result of which were form figures of 1, 1, 2, 1, 2.

Perhaps the most impressive of them was newcomer Wanting, with the Acclamation filly bounding clear in a maiden fillies' sprint at Chelmsford, to complete a stable 1-2 under a delicate ride from Kirby, as the in-form pilot bagged winner number 65 of the all-weather season. 

Almost inevitably he then notched a 66th to accompany that strike, securing a 7/1 double on the day with a 3/1 strike aboard the John Jenkins-trained Karam Albaari

Finally, looking ahead to a week in which the all-weather will come into its own with the weather already causing disruption, we've got the latest fast track qualifier to look forward to (3.40 Chelmsford, Wed), and some tasty looking punting opportunities on Monday afternoon...

Lingfield Races : News Photo

In-form National Hunt trainer Alan King has thumped in three winners from his last six runners over the sticks, notably with Grade 2 winner Ned Stark at Wetherby on Saturday, but this afternoon he focuses his attention on the level, with improving hurdler Gimme Five going for a second career all-weather win, lining up in the stayers race at Lingfield (2.15pm).

Up seven pounds in this discipline after winning under Richard Hughes at Wolverhampton back in October, this lad remains unexposed on the Flat, and has more than proven his stamina with his exploits over timber.

The excellent Fergus Sweeney gets the leg up today, and getting weight from all but one of their six rivals the duo appear a potent combination.

Also at Lingfield that man Kirby could be continuing his hot streak, with Novabridge taken to land the five furlong handicap at 3.50pm.

This horse has won after a long break before, and the hope is a 148 day absence, the switch to John Butler's Newmarket stable, and the the re-introduction of Kirby in the saddle will be enough to spark an 11th career win.

Finally, we'll go not so much up in grade but almost into orbit with a recommendation for the William Haggas-trained Graphic to do the business at Wolverhampton. 

He lines up in the extended mile conditions race at 5.10pm, rated 112 after exploits last summer that saw him finish second in the Diomed Stakes at Epsom before a win in a Group 3 at Maisons-Laffittein July. 

This is a tight race on paper, but his class could see him through despite the concession of an 8lb penalty.

Good luck!


Monday's best all-weather bets:

2.15 Lingfield - 6 Gimme Five (win)

3.50 Lingfield - Unibet Offer Daily Jockey/Trainer Specials Handicap - 2 Novabridge (win)

5.10 Wolverhampton - 1 Graphic (win)