We do have a full weekend of racing action, but frankly it’s all about Good Friday. Lingfield hosts the All-Weather Championships Finals with every race worth at least £38,000, while Newcastle’s Burradon Stakes may throw up a three-year-old Group performer.
Later in the weekend, look out for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Essential Quality running in the Blue Grass Stakes en route to the Kentucky Derby, but we start at Gosforth Park with a great value shout.
2.15 Newcastle (Handicap) – DULAS
This is an ordinary-looking seven-furlong handicap and one that is eminently winnable. That’s what Charlie Hills, who has just the one runner on the card, and former champ Paul Hanagan will be thinking as they team up with four-year-old Dulas.
He’s been troublesome in the past and required a stalls test, but his best run as a juvenile was definitely on this track. He’s a Raven’s Pass so perhaps that’s not a surprise, while he has also been gelded over the winter which should have settled him down plenty.
If he returns to his best then he is well-in here, and in fact he should improve further if he’s matured and is the only four-year-old on a shortlist that also includes Broctune Red and Kapono. Big chance.
2.35 Lingfield (All-Weather Fillies’ & Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes) – INDIE ANGEL
Our first foray into the AW finals day is with the seven-furlong fillies’ and mares’ race. John and Thady Gosden have had a terrific start to the year and it looks sure to continue on Friday, their Indie Angel being the first of three to recommend from the yard.
Arafi may improve, Shimmering Dawn has a place chance and Fizzy Feet looks decent value to put up a bold show, but the Gosdens’ Dark Angel filly must surely be the one to be on.
An almost constant improver having started from a low base, Indie Angel reached a peak last time out when winning at this track last October over a mile. This seven-furlong trip looks ideal for her though, and so a new career high is on the cards which would make her half-a-stone better than the rest.
3.25 Newcastle (Burradon Stakes – Listed Race) – MEGALLAN
A £100,000 race before coronavirus hit the industry, the Burradon Stakes looks sure to attract plenty of top three-year-olds as the years go on.
This time around we looked on for a very juicy renewal when Mostahdaf, Secret Protector and Quintillus were all entered up, however that trio now have assignments elsewhere. It leaves us with a small field, but it’s one that the Gosden-trained Megallan can now dominate.
Megallan was very well backed last time out at Lingfield and Rab Havlin was visibly annoyed when crossing the line a close second. The truth is though, that the faster surface over just seven furlongs on a tight track just wasn’t in the favour of a horse who has run fourth in an Autumn Stakes behind One Ruler on soft going.
These conditions are much, much better for him and he should take some stopping, with Legion Of Honour his biggest rival.
Megallan might be a very restrictive price, but this is an important step. It was a strong Autumn Stakes he took part in and it may yet be that he has an outside squeak of being involved in one or more classics later in the season.
Regardless, I couldn’t put you off throwing him into a double with Indie Angel at around 2 or 3/1 as both horses hold a very strong chance.
3.45 Lingfield (3-Year-Old All-Weather Championships Conditions Stakes) – MIGHTY GURKHA
What was noticeable above all when handicapping this race was that a host of contenders were very much of a muchness on the numbers. While all being good, Diligent Harry, Victory Heights, Yazaman, Zamaani and Apollo One are very tough to separate and that often means there is something in the race which is simply better.
That horse may well be Mighty Gurkha. Archie Watson’s runner was impressive several times last season; on debut, when running fifth at Royal Ascot and when landing the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton.
He has quality, was a winner last time out and should peak now with Hollie Doyle up top.
4.15 Lingfield (Easter Classic All-Weather Middle-Distance Championships Conditions Stakes) – FOREST OF DEAN
While Bangkok is very much respected in the most valuable race on the card, he seems to be constantly over bet and a little overestimated these days.
We’ve taken Andrew Balding’s horse on before, successfully too, in the Winter Derby last year against Dubai Warrior when he was 8/13 favourite and now, we do so again with a horse we backed in this year’s Winter Derby over course and distance.
That horse is John and Thady Gosden’s Forest Of Dean. Improving gradually having come back into training in the Godolphin colours, Forest Of Dean landed the big race at Lingfield last time out over 1¼ miles and he looks set to do so again with James Doyle on board this time.
In a small field for the money on offer Bangkok rates as his biggest danger, with Assimilation next on the list.
4.45 Lingfield (All-Weather Mile Championships Conditions Stakes) – KHUZAAM
We finish our busy Good Friday with one more bet on the All-Weather Championships card. This time it’s the mile race, one in which there are some lively contenders.
The now French-trained Silver Quartz has been well touted by his current trainer, while Fox Duty Free is no mug for Ralph Beckett.
Intuitive should be on the premises and Mums Tipple seems to have come right back to himself, but they may all have to go some to get to Roger Varian’s Khuzaam.
The five-year-old handles the surface well and was runner-up in three Listed races in a row late last year. He’s since been gelded and ran a stormer to win over at Chelmsford last time out, so with any natural improvement on the cards from that race to this, he’ll be too strong.