Tom Lee's All-Weather Championships Blog & Saturday's Best Bet

Making just his fourth ever racecourse appearance and his all-weather debut, it was Roger Varian's Haalick who stole the headlines at Lingfield last Saturday, bagging his spot at Friday week's £1.1m Championship Finals Day, after a win which guarantees the Roderic O'Connor colt an automatic slot in the Three-Year-Old Mile Championships Conditions Stakes on the 25th. 

Ridden with great confidence by Jack Mitchell, the improving youngster secured a rough renewal of the listed Spring Cup, and he could be better still if connections opt to up him in trip on Good Friday, with Mitchell saying:

"Haalick has done it well in the end. I had a lovely run through and, luckily, the gaps appeared for me at the right time.

"There was a lot of jostling on the outside and, to be honest, I was being a bit brave going down the inside. Luckily, it opened up and he was good enough to take me through.

Irish Derby Festival : News Photo

"Roger has his horses in great form and was very happy with this lad beforehand. Haalick has got the job done well - probably better than I thought he would.

"I wasn't tied down to too many instructions beforehand. He was a little bit rusty early on but, once he warmed into his race, he did it well.

"I honestly wouldn't know where he will go next but I would say winning one of those races means that you would have to have a little go at Good Friday." 

With Good Friday in mind and rapidly approaching, this weekend sees the Final opportunity for horses to jump the queue and make sure they'll be there on the big day, as Wolverhampton hosts the very last 'fast track qualifier', in the shape of the the listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes (2.50pm).

The winner will automatically receive a position in the final field for the Mile, but standing in their way is a final field of eight. 

Wolverhampton Races : News Photo

Top rated (113) Sovereign Debt has to try and concede weight to all comers owing to the penalty he is forced to carry for his Group 3 win at Tipperary in October, and off the back of a 91-day absence he looks worth taking on. 

The Stuart Williams-trained Realize comes into the race on a hat-trick after a pair of identical neck wins at Lingfield in recent weeks, while Chookie Royale steps back up in distance having won three of his last five.

All could play a part, but the one to be on is Mark Johnston's equally in-form Mister Universe, a four-year-old by Cape Cross who banished any doubts about his suitability for the all-weather, striding out to an all the way win at Lingfield Park last weekend on his first every outing on an artificial surface. 

Joe Fanning rode him with real purpose there, happy to wind up the pace off a steady gallop, and it could be Doncaster's Lincoln Handicap next for Mister Universe if he wins here. 

His yard had a well-backed winner at Chelmsford on Thursday, and he can maintain his unbeaten record on the all-weather by taking this. 

Good luck!


Saturday's best bet at Wolverhampton:

2.50 - Lady Wulfruna Stakes - 6 Mister Universe (win)