Volunteer Point booked her place for All-Weather Championships Finals Day with a swooping victory in the seven-furlong £30,000 toteexacta Fillies’ Conditions Stakes (2.45pm) on Polytrack at Chelmsford City on Saturday, January 16.
The Mick Channon-trained four-year-old receives an automatic spot in the £150,000 32Red All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships, also over seven furlongs on Polytrack, at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, March 25.
Switched off at the rear of the six runners by Graham Gibbons, 7/1 chance Volunteer Point quickened strongly in the closing stages to wear down My Call (Saeed bin Suroor/Martin Harley) near the line and prevail by a neck in 1m 23.23s – a new course record.
Graham Gibbons commented: “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.”
Lamar (James Tate/Luke Morris), who was sent off the 4/5 favourite following three All-Weather victories already this season, finished a length behind My Call in third after racing off the bridle for much of the race.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Lamar’s owner Saif Ali, said: “I think the trip has beaten Lamar today and she only ran seven days ago. She was a little bit sluggish from the gate and they didn’t appear to go very fast.
“Luke Morris had to shake her up and then she was running a little bit keen, so I would put it down to the trip. She got away with seven furlongs when she won at Wolverhampton and I thought she may win today if they went fast, but they didn’t.
“There is the Listed Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield Park on February 6, which she might go to, but we will see how she is. She has to go off to stud at some point and the longer she stays away from the paddocks, the more difficult it is going to be.”
Elsewhere on a valuable card, Our Channel (William Haggas/Pat Cosgrave) looks set for a step back up in class following a decisive win in the 10-furlong £30,000 William Hill Download The App Handicap (3.20pm).
The five-year-old, runner-up in a Group Two in Turkey in September, 2014, took the advantage over a furlong from home and soon went clear to score by a length and three-quarters over Afonso De Sousa.
Winning jockey Pat Cosgrave said: “This is the first time that I have ridden Our Channel but William Haggas advised me well. He can be a little bit keen in his races and the main thing today was that he switched off early on, which was good.
“They went a good gallop and it really suited me. I couldn’t see myself getting beaten at any stage. It took me 50 yards to get him into top gear and away he went again.
“William has done a great job in giving him a break since his last run and the horse has done it well in the end.
“He has been placed in some high-class races – he is no mug – and I think he may improve a little bit for today, so a race like the Winter Derby (G3, Lingfield Park, February 27) is definitely not out of the equation.”
Chelmsford City hosts four Fast-Track Qualifiers this season, with Lancelot Du Lac having scored on January 2 to gain his place the £150,000 Unibet All-Weather Sprint Championships.
Further Fast-Track Qualifiers take place at the course on February 7 (for the Unibet 3-Y-O Sprint All-Weather Championships) and on March 3 (for 32Red All-Weather Marathon Championships).