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

While on duty for Channel 4 in the Warwick betting ring on Saturday, news was filtering through from the day's pair of all-weather meetings, with the cross bar left trembling after an attempted 'cross the card' double was narrowly foiled, with Godolphin filly My Call denied by the width of a fine coat of paint at Chelmsford, going down by a neck to Volunteer Point in the day's 'fast track qualifier'.

To be fair to Volunteer Point, she swooped fast and late under Graham Gibbons to lead on the line, getting the job done in a new course record time of 1m 23.23 seconds, to bag both the day's Fillies' Conditions Stakes, and with it a spot in Good Friday's £150,000 Championship Final.

It was a shame for followers of My Call, who looked as if she was going to add to the earlier success of stablemate Hold Tight at Lingfield Park and do followers of this column's selections a big favour, but credit has to go to 7/1 shot Volunteer Point, and her rider remarked:

"Volunteer Point is a nice filly, who is progressing all of the time. She is going the right way and the boss has been good with her - he has aimed her at the right races.

"Looking at the race beforehand, I thought she was the quickest filly in the field, which is why I took my time and played my hand late.

"I thought that I had everything covered turning in. They were all hard at work in front and I still had plenty of horse underneath me.

"She will definitely be a contender on Good Friday. I don't think Lingfield Park will bother her - she has plenty of tactical speed and, as she showed today, a good turn of foot."

She looks one to follow, as does Warwick's big race hero Russe Blanc, who was giving my sister, trainer Kerry, a second big televised Saturday success of 2016, following the well publicised Welsh National victory for Mountainous seven days previously. 

Warwick Races : News Photo

You can't get much further from the speed merchants of the all-weather than the stamina and guts of chasers taking in the 3m 5f on Heavy ground of Warwick's Classic Chase, but Russe Blanc, the only officially registered white (not grey!) horse in training, revelled in the conditions, and could now be targeted at the likes of Newcastle's long distance Eider Chase. 

Credit where it's due, for another great training performance, and the same remark has to apply to Abergavenny based Dave Evans, who saddled a 1-3 in Kempton Park's feature race on the all-weather on Sunday. 

The former window cleaner, one of the great characters of the sport, not only saw odds-on shot Gracious John easily win the six furlong sprint 'fast track qualifier' at the Sunbury venue, but he also had the added satisfaction of seeing Thatsallimsaying grab some handy place money in third.

Gracious John, sent off at 4/9 in the hands of John Egan, now qualifies for the Unibet Three-Year-Old Sprint Championship Final on the big day in March, and his colourful trainer had this to say:

"Gracious John will definitely go for the Final."

"There used to be no races for three-year-old sprinters but that is not the case now and the Final has great prize money."

"The Final is over five furlongs but I wouldn't have thought that would make much difference - he is a fast horse."

"He has progressed steadily and is a big horse and there is a long time before the Final so he is likely to keep running."

"There is another Fast-Track Qualifier at Chelmsford on February 7 (the Totequadpot Conditions Stakes, 5f) which is worth £30,000 and will be his next target."

Looking ahead to the weekend, Unibet punters will doubtless have their sights trained on Saturday's all-weather card at Lingfield Park, which features a valuable 'fast track qualifier' for Good Friday's £150,000 Marathon.

Also on the same bill is the 32Red Casino Handicap (1.45pm), a seven furlong race that has attracted a field of six. 

Most of them arrive in decent nick, but the one to concentrate on appears to be Sir Mark Prescott's Cocoa Beach. 

Ridden by the excellent Luke Morris, she stayed on really well to win on her racecourse debut at Wolverhampton 15 days ago, and looks sure to appreciate this step up in trip. 

An opening mark of 76 looks fair, and she can maintain her unbeaten record. 

Later in the day the main event is the £19,000 Conditions Stakes (2.55pm), a two miler which has real quality in its ranks. 

Former Lady Cecil inmate Hamelin would be a popular winner on his second outing for George Scott, while Flashman has been a regular scorer at Chelmsford for Gary Moore. 

Doncaster Races : News Photo

Godolpin trainer Charlie Appleby runs a pair, including last year's winner of this race Anglophile, but to my eyes the one to be with is his Pinzolo. 

A winner on the only time Adam Kirby previously rode him, this horse has form at a higher level, and can shrug off a penalty.

He's unbeaten on the domestic all-weather, and if Kirby can bounce him out then can could poach a soft lead which may turn out to be irreversible.

The step up to two miles is the major question mark, but it may actually show him in an even better light, and if that's the case then it'll be game over. 

Good luck!


Saturday's best bets on the all-weather with Unibet:

1.45 Lingfield - 32Red Casino Handicap - 5 Cocoa Beach (win)

2.55 Lingfield - Conditions Stakes - 1 Pinzolo (win)