A new era for the All-Weather Championships dawns on Good Friday, 15th April, with Finals Day taking place at Newcastle Racecourse for the first time.
There are 81 entries across the six championship races, including 14 overseas-trained contenders, while Classic hopefuls will put their credentials on the line in the opening Listed Coral Burradon Stakes (1.30pm).
Betway Easter Classic
Trainer Marco Botti is hoping Felix can scoop the lion’s share of £200,000 in the feature Betway Easter Classic (4.45pm) over 10 furlongs.
The six-year-old was narrowly denied by Forest Of Dean in last season’s G3 Betway Winter Derby and followed up with a fine third behind Lord North in the G1 Dubai Turf on Dubai World Cup Night.
Having finished third in Listed races at Lingfield Park earlier this term, Felix was fifth in the G1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan before a rare below par eighth in the Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton Park on 26th March.
The Magnolia Stakes could provide the key piece of form for the Betway Easter Classic with the winner Living Legend and runner-up Al Zaraqaan, who were separated by a nose, engaged for Charlie and Mark Johnston and Archie Watson respectively.
Botti, who sent out Grendisar to win the Easter Classic in 2016, said: “We were disappointed with Felix at Kempton but the race did not pan out for him at all. Daniel [Muscutt, jockey] went to go forward and unfortunately got stuck three-wide most of the way, which didn’t suit.
“Felix worked this morning and looks in good condition, so we are very hopeful that he can bounce back to the level he showed prior to Kempton. The run in Dubai was good and, on that form, he should have a leading chance.
“I have thought for a while that Newcastle will suit him better than the sharper tracks like Lingfield. Newcastle is a big galloping track and, with his style of running, it should play to his strengths.”
Of his other Finals Day entries, Botti added: “Rising Star will take her chance in the Coral All-Weather Fillies’ & Mares’ Championships. She won nicely at Newcastle last month and, although it was a small field, it was still nice to see her back in that sort of form. The drop back to seven furlongs should not inconvenience her and I can see her running a nice race.
“Golden Warrior is a nice sprinter in the making and ran well to be third in what looked a decent race at Lingfield last time. The track was too sharp for him and moving to a stiffer six at Newcastle will be a help. He has a few pounds to find in the Coral Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships but I think there is more to come from him.”
There have been five French-trained winners on Finals Day but none in the Betway Easter Classic. That could change courtesy of Charlesquint, who won a conditions race at Chantilly last month for Yann Barberot, and Christophe Ferland’s Watch Him.
The Roger Varian-trained duo of Tyrrhenian Sea and La Tihaty are engaged following prolific campaigns this winter, although both four-year-olds also have the option of the All-Weather Mile Championships.
United Front, a five-time winner on the All-Weather for Champion Trainer elect Mick Appleby, completes the eight entries.
All-Weather Mile Championships
William Haggas is the most successful trainer on Finals Day with four winners and the Newmarket trainer’s My Oberon heads 17 contenders for the £150,000 All-Weather Mile Championships (2.00pm).
My Oberon, who was G1-placed on turf last year, captured a Fast-Track Qualifier at Southwell in February and finished a creditable sixth in the G1 Dubai Turf last time out.
The entries also feature two other Fast-Track Qualifier winners in Tinker Toy and Tempus while the Giuseppe Botti-trained Amilcar tops three contenders from France. Irish handler Joseph O’Brien could send over San Andreas following a conditions race success at Dundalk.
Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships
There is set to be a very competitive line up for the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships (2.35pm, 6f), with Fast-Track Qualifier winners Good Effort, Spycatcher and course specialist Venturous among the 20 entries.
A strong overseas contingent is led by last-time-out winners Bouttemont from France and Harry’s Bar from Ireland, while the 112-rated Ejtilaab is the pick on ratings after an impressive front-running victory at Kempton Park.
Coral Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships
Karl Burke has a strong hand in the £150,000 Coral Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships (3.10pm, 6f), with the Middleham trainer set to be represented by Listed Coral Spring Cup victor El Caballo and Kaboo.
Other standouts among the 12 entries are Space Cowboy, winner of the season’s opening Fast-Track Qualifier at Newcastle in October, fellow course scorer Tiber Flow and G3 Prix Djebel runner-up Loubeisien from France.
Coral All-Weather Fillies’ & Mares’ Championships
Royal Ascot winner Highfield Princess headlines nine contenders for the £150,000 Coral All-Weather Fillies’ & Mares’ Championships (3.45pm), in which the prolific Internationalangel and Fast-Track Qualifier winner Fauvette are also engaged.
Rainbow Dreamer, Sleeping Lion and Earlofthecotswolds are the standard bearers in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships (4.15pm, 2m 56y) having all won Fast-Track Qualifiers this season.
About the All-Weather Championships
Season nine of the All-Weather Championships runs from Tuesday, 19th October 2021 and culminates with All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday, 15th April 2022.
Finals Day will take place at Newcastle for the first time while its previous home Lingfield Park will now stage the All-Weather Vase fixture for horses not rated high enough to run on Finals Day.
The six championship categories are:
- Three-Year-Olds sponsored by Coral – 6f Final
- Fillies & Mares sponsored by Coral – 7f Final
- Mile sponsored by MansionBet – 1m Final
- Sprint sponsored by Betway – 6f Final
- Marathon sponsored by Betway – 2m Final
Middle Distance sponsored Betway – 10f Final
There are two ways for horses to qualify for one of the finals on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Newcastle:
- A horse can win a ‘Fast-Track Qualifier’ race which will ensure a FREE and GUARANTEED place in the corresponding final on Good Friday. There are four Fast-Track Qualifiers in each of the six championship categories hosted at racecourses in Great Britain, Ireland and France. If a filly wins any of the Fast-Track Qualifier races for either the Sprint or the Mile categories, the filly will be qualified for the final of that specific category, or for the Fillies and Mares Final.
- A horse must run a minimum of three times on the All-Weather surfaces in Great Britain, Ireland and France; or twice on the All-Weather surfaces in Great Britain, Ireland, France and once on dirt in Dubai or Saudi Arabia during the qualifying period between 19th October 2021 and the six-day entry stage for the finals (Saturday 9th April 2022) and then be rated high enough to ‘make the cut’ in a final by order of its BHA Rating.
In addition, prizes will be awarded to each of the All-Weather Champions – the ‘All Stars’ – based on the number of winners at the end of the All-Weather Championships season:
- Champion All-Weather Jockey (winner and runner up)
- Champion All-Weather Apprentice Jockey (winner and runner up)
- Champion All-Weather Trainer
- Champion All-Weather Owner
- Winning Most All-Weather Horse
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