The 2016/17 All-Weather Championship step up a gear on Saturday, November 12, with two Fast-Track Qualifiers at Lingfield Park.
Last year’s Easter Classic hero Grendisar (Marco Botti) heads 21 entries for £45,000 Betway Churchill Stakes (2.35pm) over 10 furlongs, which is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 14, 2017.
Grendisar has been kept fresh for another All-Weather campaign, having not run since his Good Friday success last season, when he defeated Fire Fighting by a length with French challenger Metropol (Pia Brandt) a further short-head back in third.
Last season on the All-Weather, Grendisar enjoyed a brilliant campaign. As well as his Easter Classic success, the six-year-old also landed the G3 Winter Derby over the same course and distance as well as the Listed Winter Derby Trial. He was also runner-up in the Churchill Stakes and Quebec Stakes, both of which are also run over 10 furlongs at Lingifeld Park.
Newmarket-based Botti reported today: “I am very pleased with Grendisar. He is working well and ready to go on Saturday.
“We had originally planned to bring him back in the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk (September 30) but I just thought he wasn’t quite ready and the extra few weeks have helped him – he looks really well.
“From what we can see at home, he seems as good as last year and is in top form.
“We have kept him fresh and will only campaign him on the All-Weather. He will be following the same route as last year with Winter Derby and Good Friday his main targets. He could also take in the Winter Derby Trial again.”
Metropol, who also finished third in the Churchill Stakes 12 months ago, made his first appearance since Good Friday when eighth, beaten three lengths, in a conditions race on the All-Weather at Deauville on October 21.
There is another French-trained entry in Ecureuil (Christophe Ferland), who carries the famous colours of the Wertheimer Brothers and has won twice on the All-Weather in France.
Yorker (William Haggas) is a three-time G1 winner in South Africa and has shaped well in three starts in Europe in 2016, while Energia Davos (Jane Chapple-Hyam) and Educate (Ismael Mohammed) finished first and second respectively in the Listed James Seymour Stakes on turf at Newmarket on October 29.
There are 22 entries for the £40,000 Betway Golden Rose Stakes (1.25pm) over six furlongs, the winner of which will be guaranteed a free place in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships on Finals Day.
Among the possible starters are G3 winner Tasleet (William Haggas) as well as Lord Of The Land (David O’Meara), who created a very favourable impression when winning the seven-furlong sunbets.co.uk Handicap at Lingfield Park on October 27, and Outback Traveller (Robert Cowell), who landed the ultra-competitive Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot.
An intriguing entry is Irish-trained Blue de Vega (Michael O’Callaghan), who came home third in the G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas earlier in the season.
Saturday’s seven-race programme at Lingfield Park gets underway at 12.15pm and concludes at 3.45pm.
Kempton Park stages an informative eight-race card on Wednesday, November 9, when the highlights are the £19,000 32Red.com Conditions Stakes (6.55pm, 9 runners) and the £55,000 32Red London Middle Distance Final Handicap (7.25pm, 13 runners).
The nine runners for the 32Red.com Conditions Stakes, staged over seven furlongs, include Donjuan Triumphant (Richard Fahey/Jack Garrity). The three-year-old, who scored at G2 level in 2015, has run some excellent races in defeat this year, mostly notably when runner-up in the G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, France, in August.
Other leading contenders for the 32Red.com Conditions Stakes include the G3-placed Mitchum Swagger (David Lanigan/George Baker), All-Weather Championships regular Chookie Royale (Keith Dalgleish/Tom Eaves) and the lightly-raced Faydhan (John Gosden/Paul Hanagan), who made an encouraging return to action after close to 18 months on the sidelines at Lingfield Park last month.
A competitive contest is in prospect for the 11-furlong 32Red London Middle Distance Final Handicap. Sixties Groove (Jeremy Noseda/Jim Crowley, 9st 4lb) comes into the race in excellent form, having finished fourth in the very valuable Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket last time out, while Banish (Hugo Palmer/Josephine Gordon (3), 9st 5lb), was successful over the course and distance on September 28.
Kempton Park’s eight-race card on Wednesday starts at 4.25pm and concludes at 7.55pm.