There are two Fast-Track Qualifiers for the All-Weather Championships this week with contests taking place at Chelmsford City on Thursday, March 2 and at Dundalk in Ireland on Friday, March 3.
Chelmsford City stages the £20,000 totepoolliveinfo.com Visit For Racing Results Conditions Stakes (7.25pm, 13 entries). The two-mile Polytrack race is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway Marathon over the same distance and surface at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 14, with the winner on Thursday gaining a free and guaranteed place.
The 13 entries include the Godolphin pair of Winning Story (Saeed bin Suroor), who landed a Fast-Track Qualifier at Newcastle on December 21 (pictured) and Natural Scenery (Charlie Appleby), who has won his last two starts in handicap company on the Tapeta surface at Newcastle.
Pique Sous is set to make the trip over from the yard of Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins.
The 10-year-old enjoyed the biggest success of his career when taking the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2014. He was due to make his first start of 2017 at Dundalk on February 10 but unseated his jockey on the way to the start and ran loose. He subsequently lined up in a mile and a half handicap at the same venue on February 17, finishing 10th under top-weight of 10st 3lb but only beaten six lengths.
Steve Massey, racing manager for owners Supreme Racing Club, commented: “The plan is for Pique Sous to come over for the Fast-Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City on Thursday.
“His run at Dundalk on February 17 was a little bit on the short side for him but it was good to get him back on the track – what happened a week before was just one of those things.
“The plan is to get him qualified for the Betway Marathon on Good Friday. Ryan Moore is pencilled in for the ride on Thursday. Ryan gets on well with the horse and I still remember the day he won the Queen Alexandra Stakes on Pique Sous very well.”
Watersmeet (Mark Johnston) got the better of Calling Out (David Simcock) by two lengths in a 12-furlong conditions race at Lingfield Park on February 16 and the pair could both step up to two miles for the first time.
Cohesion (David Bridgwater) finished third in the same Lingfield contest with Retrieve (Jamie Osborne) fourth. Cohesion was a dual turf winner in France in 2016, while Retrieve, a G1-placed performer in his younger days in Australia, was subsequently the cosy winner of a claimer at Wolverhampton on February 23.
Other winners already this season who could line up on Thursday include Isharah (Mark Johnston) and Haines (Andrew Balding), who had Isharah back in third and Calvinist (Archie Watson) in fifth when taking a handicap over an extended two miles on Tapeta at Wolverhampton on February 15.
Other interesting contenders include Sandro Botticelli (John Ryan), a Listed winner on turf in 2016 but last of five in a Fast-Track Qualifier at Kempton Park on February 22.
There are 11 entries for the €25,000 32Red Race (7.30pm) at Dundalk on Friday, March 3. The seven-furlong Polytrack contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 32Red 3 Year Old All-Weather Championships over a furlong shorter at Lingfield Park on Good Friday.
Among the entries are the promising debut winners Remember The Days (Joseph O’Brien) and Tuff Love (Ger Lyons), while potential challengers from Britain are Wolverhampton scorers Dr Julius No (Ralph Beckett) and Visionary (Robert Cowell), plus the Mark Johnston-trained pair of Newmarket maiden winner Rich And Famous and dual All-Weather victor Sutter County.