The going for the third All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park is Standard. There are no non-runners as of 1.00pm.
ARKELL LOOKS FORWARD TO A ‘GREAT DAY’ RACING
Good Friday racing at Lingfield is in it’s third year and Clerk of the Course Ed Arkell is pleased with the progression of the All-Weather Championships Finals Day and believes the quality this year is better than ever.
With a card worth £1.1 million in total, the All Weather Championships Finals Day has established itself as the culmination of a great season.
“It should be a great day’s racing,” said Arkell.
“We’re really pleased with the quality of horses; the quality is improving year on year. It’s now a day that trainers aim their horses at.
“When you take a race like the Unibet All-Weather Sprint we only have one horse rated below 100 running which shows the calibre has moved on year after year and that’s what we wanted to see.”
Commenting on the prize money on offer, the highlight being the Coral Easter Classic Middle Distance Stakes (3.45pm) worth a massive £200,000, Arkell said: “The prize money we have on offer, with a card worth £1.1 million, is a serious amount, so you’d be worried if they weren’t popular races.
“What’s so great is that you now see really good horses running during the winter, whereas in the past they never came out until May and they were back in the box in September or maybe October and how you’re seeing high-quality Group Two or even Group One performers appearing over the winter.
“You look at Tryster, who won the Coral Easter Classic last year, and runs in the Group One Turf in Dubai tomorrow night, which just shows the calibre of horses that run here.”
LINGFIELD PARK’S BIGGEST DAY OF THE YEAR
Andrew Perkins, Lingfield Park Resort’s Executive Director, reported tremendous interest in today’s third All-Weather Championships Finals Day.
There is £1.1 million of prize money on offer, which makes today the richest All-Weather programme in Europe.
He said this morning: “The level of interest has built over the three years and this year we have seen lots more engagement through social media.
“Yesterday, our Twitter tags were going off the wall with people looking forward to coming to Lingfield. We had this for the first two years but not to such an extent.
“We have sold more tickets and badges in advance this year as against last year and I am hopeful with the sunny weather that we will get a bigger walk-up element than in 2015.
“I hope that today’s attendance will eclipse last year’s 9,000-strong crowd. Today is the highlight of our year and, as soon as this one finishes, we will start planning for the launch of the next All-Weather Championships in October and Finals Day on Good Friday next year.
“Today is such a pinnacle for us – the eyes of racing are on us – and it gives us a huge sense of pride in what we do, bringing together the whole team who are focused on delivering a fantastic day for our racegoers. It is great for Lingfield Park.
“We have close to 250 staff working across the whole site today, which is three to four times the number on an average day here.
“Hospitality has sold out, the trackside restaurant has sold out too and we have even sold the restaurant in the hotel for hospitality as well. There isn’t a seat in the house in terms of private hospitality – everything is taken.
“We had lots of calls yesterday from people keen for places in the restaurant but unfortunately we could not accommodate them.
“All the indications are that we will have another bumper crowd today. Moving the winner’s enclosure to the front of the stands for today creates a great atmosphere and everybody gets to see what is going on.
“We have found that this day is attracting increasing numbers of first-rime racegoers which is very encouraging.”
All-Weather Championships League Tables – current standings (including the racing of March 24, 2016)
Champion Jockey (£10,000 to the winner)
Luke Morris 86
Adam Kirby 74
Oisin Murphy 38
Jim Crowley 35
Joe Fanning 35
George Baker 32
Pat Cosgrave 31
Kieran O’Neill 30
Shane Kelly 28
Tony Hamilton 25
Liam Keniry 25
Andrew Mullen 25
Martin Lane 25
Champion Trainer (£10,000 to the winner)
Michael Appleby 38
David Evans 36
Richard Fahey 31
Stuart Williams 30
Mark Johnston 25
Richard Hannon 24
David Simcock 23
John Gosden 22
Jamie Osborne 21
Andrew Balding 20
Daniel Loughnane 20
Roger Varian 20
Champion Owner (£10,000 to the winner)
Saeed Manana 10
Cheveley Park Stud 9
Hamdan Al Maktoum 9
Alan Spence 9
Saif Ali 8
Tariq Al Nisf 8
John Marsden 7
Winning-Most Horse (£10,000 to the winner)
Crosse Fire 4
Kingsley Klarion 4
Giovanni di Bicci 4
Sire Of The Year (£10,000 to the winner)
Cape Cross 37
Exceed And Excel 36
Monsieur Bond 24
Dark Angel 23
Invincible Spirit 20
Sakhee’s Secret 20
Horse Of The Year
Horse Prize Money
Volunteer Point £54,542.50
The Steward £45,959.05
Festive Fare £43,047.50
All-Weather stalwart Kelleway grateful for Good Friday
Trainer Gay Kelleway has been a supporter of All-Weather racing for over 20 years, having enjoyed her first winner when Duball Remy scored in a maiden at Southwell on November 22, 1993.
Since that date, the Exning-based hander has gone on to enjoy over 200 winners on the All-Weather, including 11 so far this season.
She gained a first victory on All-Weather Championships Finals Day in 2015 when Lightscameraction landed the £150,000 Unibet Three-Year-Old Sprint with Luke Morris up.
Kelleway reflected: “I think the All-Weather Championships have been a fantastic innovation.
“For me personally, I have stayed at home this winter rather than going to the south of France because the prize money has gone up so much. It has been fabulous and we have won close to £100,000 in prize money. I have no complaints at all.
“For a trainer like myself, who only has a few horses, I have been able to really focus on the All-Weather and target both Listed races and decent prize money.
“With only 25 horses, the summer season frightens me a bit when you see all the beautifully-bred horses and big owners. I have cut down on buying two-year-olds and have concentrated on buying older horses who can be campaigned on the All-Weather.
“It is very hard to win to win turf races in April and May. I see American trainer Wesley Ward is going to have a runner in the Brocklesby Stakes and I think about six trainers have told they are going to win it.
“So thank God for decent All-Weather racing. It has really helped me and has just got bigger and better.
“Long live Good Friday is all I can say. If I had more horses of the calibre required, I would have run them.
“I ran out of time to qualify with a few of mine but Good Friday has always been on my mind throughout the winter.
“I think the three runs needed to qualify works perfectly as it stops the big yards just turning up on the day. It has really helped a trainer like myself.”
Gay Kelleway talks about her three runners today
Trainer Gay Kelleway saddles a team of three horses today, headed by Lightscameraction (Luke Morris) who will attempt a second victory on All-Weather Championships Final Day when he lines up in the £150,000 Unibet All-Weather Sprint (2.10pm).
Her other two contenders are Royal Marskell (Luke Morris) in the 32Red All-Weather Marathon (2.40pm, 13 runners) and Yeah Baby Yeah (David Probert) in the £150,000 32Red All-Weather Three-Year-Old Mile Championships (4.45pm, nine runners).
Lightscameraction has made five appearances so far this All-Weather Championships season, winning twice, including last time out on February 27 at Lingfield Park when he scored by a neck from Take Cover in the Listed Unibet Hever Sprint Stakes over five furlongs. All of his four wins to date have come over five furlongs at the Surrey course, headlined by his victory last year on Good Friday in the Unibet Three-Year-Old Sprint.
Exning-based Kelleway said: “Lightscameraction has been in fantastic form since his win at Lingfield Park last time but it will be tough from his draw (14) – he is almost on the East Grinstead road! On the plus side, he does have Lancelot Du Lac next to him in stall 13.
“I do think he will get six furlongs. You have to remember he is still only four, so is still a bit of a baby. We could have pushed and gone to Dubai with him but he is strengthening up and I think he will get better as the year goes on. He will be even better next winter.
“There is no race over five furlongs for him on Good Friday so we have to have a go with him in the six-furlong race, especially as the prize money is so good.
“With his draw, we have to make up a length or two more than if he had been drawn in the middle so it
“He is a forward-going horse so we can’t be clever with him and try and hold him up, so it does put us in a difficult position. We will lose a length or two early, which could cost us the race, but he couldn’t be going there is better form.”
Yeah Baby Yeah’s most recent run was when winning a maiden over an extended six furlongs on Polytrack at Chantilly in France on February 9. The three-year-old daughter of Art Connoisseur showed some good form in 2015, most notably when third in a Listed contest on turf at Deauville behind subsequent black-type scorers Yakaba and Log Out Island.
Kelleway continued: “The champion jockey in France, Pierre-Charles Boudot, won on Yeah Baby Yeah in France last time and he said that it was the wrong trip for her as she will get further.
“She has had a break since her last run and we have freshened her up. She is a hold-up horse so her draw (nine) doesn’t really worry me too much.
“It looks a nice race but maybe not as competitive as it was last year. She had Log Out Island, who is going for the 2,000 Guineas, a short-head in front of her at Deauville last year and we were putting up a pound overweight.
“That was over five furlongs and I think she would have won over further so if we can get her back to that level she should be right up there.
“It is just a question of getting her right in the day and whether she is really an All-Weather horse or more of a turf horse. She is a good filly and I mapped out to run on Good Friday after her win last time. I think she is crying out for a mile.”
Royal Marskell is a six-time winner on the All-Weather. The seven-year-old has won twice in handicaps over 11 and 12 furlongs at Southwell and Lingfield Park respectively since first racing for Kelleway in November.
Kelleway concluded: “For me, the 32Red All-Weather Marathon is the hottest race of the day. Compared to the last two years, it has really upped the tempo and looks a strong race.
“The good thing about Royal Marskell is that he has improved. I think the step up distance will suit him well and, after Good Friday, we will be looking at hopefully going for the Chester Cup with him.
“For an older horse, I don’t think I have had one improve so much since he joined me.”
GREAT FRIDAY IN THE PRESS
As with racing, there was once a time when newspapers were not available on Good Friday. Now with both racing and newspapers happening on Good Friday, the racing pages have turned their attention to All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park today.
The Racing Post leads the way, with headline of – “GREAT FRIDAY – Heroes of the sand top the bill at Lingfield’s Easter spectacular”.
Inside the daily trade paper, Lewis Porteous notes on page two: “Some scepticism from horsemen, as well as the wider community, followed the announcement three years ago that an All-Weather Finals Day would lead the sport into a new era of Good Friday racing, but the criticism from within has largely been extinguished and it is hard to argue that the £1.1 million raceday has not been a mostly successful venture to date.”
Greg Wood in The Guardian reports from Dubai, noting that last year’s Coral Easter Classic hero Tryster, owned by Godolphin, is this year a leading contender for the Group One Dubai Turf at Meydan tomorrow, one of the world’s richest turf races. Wood also notes that Tryster covered the last two furlongs of the 2015 Coral Easter Classic in 20.97s, one of the fastest final-quarter sectionals ever recorded by a middle-distance performer in Britain.
Marcus Armytage in The Daily Telegraph is also based in Dubai this week and in a similar vein notes: “A year ago Tryster completed a winter five-timer on the All-Weather by winning Lingfield’s Easter Classic. Today, the Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old is being touted as Godolphin’s next big thing on turf….”
The Sun carries full-colour racecards for the Channel 4-televised races from Lingfield Park and Wolverhampton, with Templegate (Steve Jones) favouring Maverick Wave in today’s Coral Easter Classic. The Daily Mirror adopts a similar format, with the Newsboy (David Yates) nap being Mindurownbusiness in the Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile.
Patrick Weaver in the Daily Express and sister publication the Daily Star focuses his attention on the races televised live on Channel 4 in a tipping piece, naps Moonrise Landing in 32Red Marathon.
Sam Turner provides a tipping piece in the Daily Mail. His nap is Grendisar in the Coral Easter Classic.
Rob Wright in The Times points out that Fran Berry will be riding in Britain full-time this year as stable jockey to Ralph Beckett. Wright thinks that Berry can make the perfect start to his British career by winning the Coral Easter Classic on Fire Fighting. He also notes: “Over £1 million in prize money is on offer at this third running of the All-Weather Finals Day and many of the top trainers and jockeys have been lured by the riches on offer.”