Richard Mann rounds up the last week from the All Weather racing scene, nominating a couple of eyecatchers while also looking forward to the week ahead.
As deep winter slowly begins to wrap its arms around us, it’s little wonder racing fans already have one eye, if not both, on the Cheltenham Festival in March. The rain and cold is one thing, but the midweek fare over the jumps is rarely anything to write home about and we should be thankful to have good-quality racing at Newbury on Friday with the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival getting under way.
I’m sure there’s a bet or two to be found there, but I’ll leave that to Messrs Brocklebank and Holt. As far as my own punting goes in the winter, racing-wise at least, I’m very much an All Weather man and will use this space every Thursday to keep you across the best and worst from the sand. I can’t promise no tales of woe, or more than a little self-pity, but I’d be hopeful we can find a few winners before winter makes way for spring.
There’s no doubting that the quality of All Weather racing has improved out of sight in the last few years. The All Weather Championships, culminating in Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday, has played a significant part in this, while Chelmsford continues to put on good prize money and Kempton and Newcastle have become fashionable venues for big yards to introduce regally-bred youngsters.
Trainer John Gosden famously did that when debuting subsequent dual Arc heroine Enable at Newcastle back in 2016 while plenty of other Newmarket handlers have followed suit.
Talking of Gosden, it was hard not to be taken with Sea The Stars colt Uncle Bryn when he stretched his unbeaten record to two at Wolverhampton on Tuesday.
Speaking to Sky Sports Racing on Thursday, jockey Rab Havlin said of him: "It's good he's won when coming from last to first, and the other day he did it from the front, so that will stand him in good stead. He's a weak, weak horse still so he's a nice horse to look forward to next year."
Uncle Bryn is already 25/1 for next year’s Derby, though I do wonder if 1m2f might be his optimum trip and on the presumption we won’t see him again this winter, I’ll be interested to see where he turns up on his return next season. The Classic Trial at Sandown or the Newmarket Stakes, which Gosden won with Mishriff this year, will most likely come under consideration.
On the same day, Gosden also gave a first racecourse start to beautifully-bred Kingman filly, Under Wraps, at Lingfield and despite only finishing seventh of 13, I thought she shaped with plenty of promise.
In truth, she wasn’t going a yard for much of the race, but once the penny had dropped she strode out really well in the home straight and should improve a great deal from that initial experience - like so many from the yard often do. Don’t forget, you can watch all video replays for free on Sporting Life and this is one case where the official result doesn’t tell the whole story.
Out of former French Oaks winner Confidential Lady, Under Wraps is bred for the job and I wouldn’t be at all surprised were Gosden to try and break her maiden before the year is out. Winning as a two-year-old would clearly do plenty for her page.
Fingers crossed she can pay for the Christmas turkey which is in some doubt after Stay Classy failed to finish in the money at Lingfield on Saturday. Richard Spencer’s mare finished strongly having been held up in her run and might have gone close to winning without that interference.
Equally adept over 7f or 1m, the four-year-old was rated 98 last year and having confirmed herself back to form in her last couple of starts, she ought to be winning again soon from her current mark.
Lingfield gets a rare weekend off this week, somewhat blowing my earlier argument about the strength of All Weather racing out of the water, but glorious Southwell – and I say that with genuine sincerity – race on Friday and I’ll be striking a bet there.
Le Reveur ran a huge race on his fibresand debut when only finding a well-handicapped rival too strong 10 days ago and he will surely win races on this surface. Formerly trained by Sir Mark Prescott, the imposing son of Dream Ahead displayed a really good attitude last time and given he doesn’t have too many miles on the clock, he looks to have a fair amount in his favour in the Bombardier Handicap.
Over at Chelmsford, I’ll be interested to see what price Arthur’s Angel is chalked up at for the tote Placepot Your First Bet Nursery Handicap. He caught the eye when flashing home for third on his handicap debut at Wolverhampton and John Ryan is a trainer I have a lot of time for.
Looking further ahead to next week, Kempton plays host to the Listed Unibet Wild Flower Stakes on Wednesday night. Pablo Escobarr beat Loxley in this race last year so fingers crossed for another good-quality turnout, while earlier in the day, Lingfield stages a couple of decent handicaps which ought to be well supported.