Wolverhampton stages its most prestigious fixture of the year this Saturday, March 10, with seven races on Tapeta featuring the £50,000 Listed sunbets.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes (3.15pm, 11 entries) and the £50,000 sunbets.co.uk Lincoln Trial Handicap (2.05pm, 17 entries).
The seven-furlong sunbets.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes is a Fast-Track Qualifier, with the winner guaranteed a free start in the £150,000 Sun Bets All-Weather Mile Championships on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 30.
Second Thought (William Haggas) booked his place in the Sun Bets All-Weather Mile Championships when taking an earlier Fast-Track Qualifier, the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Hyde Stakes over a mile on Polytrack at Kempton Park in November. The four-year-old is unbeaten in five starts on the All-Weather and captured the £150,000 32Red Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships on Good Friday in 2017.
Salateen (David O’Meara), who has been racing on turf in Dubai so far this year, was the shock 25/1 winner of the sunbets.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes 12 months ago. He could bid to become the third two-time winner of the race, following Border Music (2006 & 2007) and Dunelight (2010 & 2011).
Trainer Simon Dow is weighing up his options for Mr Scaramanga who holds entries in both of the feature races.
Mr Scaramanga captured the local G2 Al Biddah Mile in Qatar last winter and also finished second in the Listed International Trial at Lingfield Park. The four-year-old has gone close in a pair of class two handicaps at Lingfield Park in 2018, most recently going down by a nose to the in-form Goring in a mile handicap on February 24.
Epsom-based Dow said today: “Mr Scaramanga is in great shape and has run well the last twice. We are not quite sure which way are going to go yet but in all probability he will head to Wolverhampton, all being well.
“Primarily, we want to go where we think we have got the best chance. It does not look like we could win the Wulfruna with William Haggas’ horse in there but we could run a place and get some prize money, whereas in the Lincoln Trial he could be badly drawn. It is 50/50 and I suspect we will make a final decision on Thursday morning.
“All-Weather Championships Finals Day is on our door step at a track he enjoys and it looks like he will have a reasonably good chance of getting in the mile final. That is very much in our minds at the moment.”
The 17 entries for the sunbets.co.uk Lincoln Trial Handicap, run over a mile and a 142 yards, are headed by the consistent William Haggas-trained Original Choice (9st 1lb). He won his only start on the All-Weather at Wolverhampton in April, when taking a seven-furlong handicap.
Richard Fahey took the spoils last year with Nimr and has three entries to choose from including last Saturday’s Lingfield Park scorer Constantino (9st 1lb). Gallipoli (8st 12lb), who went close at Newcastle on his latest start, and 2015 Cambridgeshire Handicap victor Third Time Lucky (9st 2lb) are also engaged.
John Smith’s Cup runner-up Big Country (Mick Appleby, 9st 7lb), G3 scorer First Selection (Simon Crisford, 9st 4lb) and Examiner (Stuart Williams, 9st 1lb), who is a three-time winner on the All-Weather, may also run.
There is also Fast-Track Qualifier action at Chelmsford City on Saturday evening courtesy of the totetrifecta Pick The 1,2,3 Conditions Race (7.15pm, 10 entered) over two miles. The winner is guaranteed a free start in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon over the same distance on Good Friday.
Haggas has another strong contender in dual Listed scorer Dal Harraild, who was not beaten far when sixth in the G2 Lonsdale Cup at York in August, but has not raced on the All-Weather yet.
Great Hall (Mick Quinn) posted a three-timer in handicaps on the turf during the summer and returned from a break to finish second to Red Verdon in a 12-furlong conditions race at Lingfield Park on February 14.
Course scorer Curbyourenthusiasm (David Simcock) and Solder In Action (Mark Johnston) are also entered.