Andrew Asquith begins a new All-Weather column as he keeps an eye on the big names, big performances and nominates horses for your trackers.
All-weather racing can split opinions amongst racing fans, but I must admit, for all that I love the jumps as well, a night under the lights at two of my favorite punting tracks Kempton and Newcastle really keeps me going through the winter.
Ever since the inception of the All-Weather Championships in 2013 – which now takes place at Newcastle on Good Friday – all-weather racing has gone from strength to strength and, more often than not nowadays, you are likely to see a potential top- notchers either making their debut or running on an artificial surface during the winter months.
The likes of Jack Hobbs, Enable and Without Parole, all of whom made winning debuts on the all-weather and went on to Group 1 success in their careers, immediately spring to mind.
All-weather racing in Britain is frustratingly on a short break and doesn’t return until Saturday evening, but the aim of this column moving forward is to highlight notable performances of weeks gone by, point out horses who have caught the eye in that time period, while also looking ahead to future racing and trying to unearth some value bets where possible.
The all-weather season really starts to crank up from here on in, and Kempton’s card next Wednesday evening, which features the Listed Wild Flower Stakes, will be a main feature in this space next week.
Exciting prospect could return Monday
However, before then, the Listed Hyde Stakes – which is a fast-track qualifier for the All-Weather Mile at Newcastle on Good Friday – takes place at Kempton on Monday afternoon. It was won by subsequent multiple Group 1 winner Kinross in 2020 and among 11 entries for this year’s renewal, the David Simcock-trained Cash looks very interesting.
This horse really caught my eye when making a winning debut at Newmarket around this time last year, so much so that I backed him for his seasonal reappearance in the Classic Trial at Sandown in April.
I remember sitting in the office and being bemused as to why he was drifting so markedly, but I soon got my explanation when I saw his pre-race antics. Cash played up behind the stalls and, from memory, was on his last chance before he finally consented to go in, but in the race itself, he ran a cracker in defeat despite showing clear signs of greenness.
A steady gallop didn’t allow him to settle in the early stages and he took time to hit top gear in the straight, wandering a little under pressure but knuckling down and painfully – for me at least – only just failing to reel in Westover. He was in front a stride after the line and that form has worked out pretty well, with the winner going on to finish third in the Derby and win the Irish Derby. Cash has clearly had his problems since, but hopefully he will make his eagerly awaited return to action at Kempton on Monday as he remains a horse of serious potential.
Two horses to add to your Sporting Life My Stable
After watching Lingfield’s nine-card bonanza on Saturday there were a couple of horses who are worth keeping an eye on in the future but the one who struck me as having the most long-term potential was night fight who won the fillies’ handicap over a mile.
She created an excellent impression when making a winning debut over a mile and a quarter at Lingfield in April, looking something out of the ordinary as she overcame a slowly-run race while also recording some mind-blowing sectionals for a debutante.
Soft ground and a quick step up in class seemingly proved her undoing in the Cheshire Oaks 28 days later and she again came up short in listed company at Yarmouth in September (completed a simple task in between).
However, it was no surprise she attracted support back on polytrack last weekend, particularly from an opening handicap mark of 82, which looked particularly lenient based on the figures of her debut success, and she duly proved that to be the case. Night Battle has been raised just 3 lb since and there is no doubt she remains a well-handicapped filly who will hopefully be kept on the go this winter.
Later on the card the Ralph Beckett-trained golden chain also left the impression that she has more to offer. She had bumped into a subsequent winner on her handicap debut in heavy ground at Sandown in September, where she left the impression that she would be well suited by a return to a mile and a half, and that again ran through my mind after seeing how she finished off her race on Saturday.
Admittedly, she didn’t get the smoothest run round, settled in midfield but having to come wide on the home turn, but she began to eat the ground up once she was organized and found her stride, staying strongly on the line. Golden Chain holds an entry over a mile and a half at Wolverhampton on Monday and is sure to be of interest if taking her chance after the handicapper has left her on the same mark.
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