Tom Lee's All-Weather Championships Blog & Friday's Best Bets

The third All-Weather Championships are up and running, with last Thursday's lucrative card at Lingfield Park the starting point for five months of quality action for talented Flat horses on artificial surfaces.

The support from powerhouse stables such Hannon, Botti, Haggas, Varian, Gosden, Morrison, Palmer and bin Suroor is a definite fillip for the series, though little surprise given the excellent prize money on offer.

In terms of the long range forecast for Good Friday, March 25th, which just happens to be All-Weather Championships Finals Day, it was first blood to Newmarket trainer James Tate, as he netted the listed Fleur De Lys Stakes with 7/2 shot Lamar, meaning that Luke Morris's mount is now guaranteed a slot in the Fillies and Mares Final, after she picked up the first 'fast track qualifier'.

Irrespective of how she fares there she already has £22,684 in the bank for winning the Fleur De Lys, but her chances in the Final shouldn't be discounted, given that in April she found only French mare Fresles too good in the same race.   

A good day at Lingfield became a great one for Tate, who also took the day's other listed prize, the River Eden Fillies' Stakes, with 16/1 hope Urban Castle.

Lingfield Races : News Photo

That gave the Tate stable a feature race double on the day, paying a hefty 75/1 if you backed them as a combination. 

Also whistling a winning tune was the aforementioned Morris, who in addition to Lamar also returned to the winners' enclosure aboard Clive Cox's maiden winner, Our Joy (9/4), as well Marco Botti's handicap hero Crazy Chic (4/1). 

A pound treble on that trio would've yielded a not to be sneezed at £73.13. 

It's also been a historic week for a number of famous faces within the sport, as jockey Hayley Turner prepares to hang up her boots this weekend, but not before she'd enjoyed a final success at her local track on Tuesday, as 5/2 shot Yul Finegold stuck his neck out on Southwell's all-weather, to give her a winner in the 1m 3f Claimer. 

Lady Cecil will also be calling it a day and retiring from the training ranks at the end of week, and with possibly her final runner she saw Hamelin go down fighting in the listed Floodlit Stakes at Kempton Park on Wednesday.

That prestigious prize went, by a neck, to James Fanshawe's Missed Call, an Authorized mare who was adding to her victory in Ascot's Shergar Cup back in August.

Lingfield Races : News Photo

Team Fanshawe then completed a tasty 59/1 double, as Ospiva got the job done in the mile and a half handicap.

At the opposite end of the career spectrum, champion jockey turned trainer Richard Hughes kick-started his new job, enjoying his first ever winner in his new trade courtesy of a win on Kempton's all-weather, as Duchess Of Marmite proved too strong for her rivals.  

Looking ahead to this weekend on the all-weather there are no fast-track qualifiers to focus on, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of decent sport to take in, with Saturday's November Handicap at Doncaster signalling the end of the Flat turf season. 

Newmarket stables are certain to be strongly represented at Chelmsford, with the Essex track racing under the floodlights both tonight and Saturday (part of a three day fixture). 

Turner will be looking to go out with a flourish, and she rides Clovelly Bay this evening in the 1m 2f Class 4 Handicap (5.40pm).

She's entitled to be right there on a horse she rode to be a creditable fourth at Windsor last month, but perhaps the one to ruin the party is the Mark Johnston-trained Poniatowski.

Newmarket Races : News Photo

A Chester maiden winner on his second start, the Dubawi three-year-old didn't fire at Windsor last time in his first attempt at a handicap, but it's early days and he demands respect as Johnston's only runner of the day. 

Down a pound for his effort at Windsor, he gets a handy allowance as the only representative of his age group, and can surely show some improvement this time. 

Just like Johnston, fellow North Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan also has just the one runner today, but it could very well be the turn of his often frustrating Moonlight Venture to stick his chestnut head in front, as he prepares to line up under Shane Gray in the one mile Totepool Supporting Sport You Love Handicap (6.40pm).

The combination of a drop in the weights, the return to a mile, the fitting of first time blinkers, and another try on the all-weather could be key, for a horse who has won one and been second in two of his five starts on similar surfaces. 

He'll be an each way price, but if he's in the mood then none of his rivals look especially fearsome.  

Good luck!


Friday's best bets on the All-Weather:

5.40 Chelmsford - Get Social With Totepool On Facebook Handicap - 6 Poniatowski (win) 

6.40 Chelmsford - Totepool Supporting Sport You Love Handicap - 8 Moonlight Venture (each way)