Epsom trainer Simon Dow reports Albishr and Mr Scaramanga to be in “great nick” ahead of the £1-million All-Weather Championships on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, March 30.
Outsider Albishr is set to tackle the £150,000 32Red Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championships (3.40pm) over six furlongs, with the likely favourite being the Archie Watson-trained Corinthia Knight.
Second on his first two starts for Dow at Kempton Park over a mile in December and January, having previously been trained by Richard Hannon, Albishr finished fourth in the seven-furlong Listed 32Red Spring Cup at Lingfield Park on March 3.
Despite dropping down to six furlongs for the first time in Albishr’s career on Good Friday at Lingfield Park, Dow, who has saddled three winners from his last four runners, is hopeful of a good performance from the son of Clodovil.
Dow, based at Clear Height Stables in Epsom, said: “I’m not sure whether Albishr will be suited by the drop to six furlongs. He has run from seven furlongs to a mile and a quarter, but there is speed in the family.
“Richard Hannon must have thought he was suited by middle distance races rather than sprinting as Albishr ran over a mile and a quarter in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket.
“With a 95-rated three-year-old, who has had a good winter, it would be better if this race was over seven furlongs or a mile, but it’s down the road and with so much prize money on offer, it seems churlish not to go.
“He is still in the 32Red Burradon Stakes over a mile at Newcastle on the same day, but that is a long way to travel and it looks as if Gronkowski is going to run there before heading for the Kentucky Derby, so we are looking at place money at best, so we may as well try and win some down the road.
“Albishr was a little bit shy when he joined us, but he has improved every month and, physically, he has done very well in recent weeks. He is starting to develop, he has got the hang of the system and he wouldn’t be the sort of horse who would like an inconsistent winter like we’ve had – but he has started to thrive since the weather has become more spring-like.
“Last time out at Lingfield, it would have suited us to try and lead for longer, but there were a lot of speed horses in the race and we got hustled out of it. Accordingly, he didn’t go forward with as much momentum, but I think we’ll put some blinkers on him this time and we’ll see if that helps as he has trained well in them.
“We know our horse is going to gallop for six furlongs, so he should be staying on at the finish. He might not get control of the race, but if he has a good draw, it’s a race we wanted to have a ticket in, and we will go from there. He is a pretty versatile horse and Adam Kirby will ride.”
Dow will also be represented on Good Friday by Mr Scaramanga, who is a 20/1 shot with the sponsor for the £150,000 Sunbets All-Weather Mile Championships (4.10pm), with the market headed by the William Haggas-trained Second Thought at 11/8.
Also formerly trained by Hannon, the four-year-old plundered nearly £116,000 for winning a local G2 event in Doha, Qatar, for his new connections in February last year. The son of Sir Percy has failed to win in 12 subsequent starts, but Dow is bullish of a big performance in Friday’s contest over a mile. Kirby is likely to ride.
A nose second to Goring (Eve Johnson Houghton) over course and distance in a handicap in February, Mr Scaramanga finished only ninth at Wolverhampton on March 10 in the sunbets.co.uk Lincoln Trial over an extended mile, but connections believe the colt failed to handle the Tapeta surface on that occasion.
Dow explained: “Mr Scaramanga has been amazing for us. It was special to win the Group Two event in Qatar. He had plenty to find on official figures, but he was given a great ride by Adrie De Vries, and the sharp track there with a bend off a strong pace really suited him – it was wonderful.
“He ran OK throughout the rest of last year, including when finishing fourth at Epsom in the Listed Surrey Stakes [June 2], but he just struggled to get his confidence back.
“He also ran well when sixth in Turkey at Veliefendi in a Group Two event, which we would not have run him in if we had known the ground was going to be that soft, and he has run well in handicaps so far on the All-Weather this winter.
“You can forget his run last time at Wolverhampton, as he just couldn’t pick up on that surface. I rode him Monday morning (March 26) and he is in really good nick. Mr Scaramanga is bonny and feels fantastic. He has a good blood and breezed nicely last week.
“He has had some rotten draws this year, but I’m hoping luck smiles kindly on us on Friday and he gets a decent draw. He has a bit to find with some of the other horses in the race and William Haggas’ horse Second Thought looks the one to beat, but you never know. It’s a horse race and anything can happen.
“He has run his best races for us over a mile and, whilst he is pretty versatile regarding trip, I think a mile is his trip.”
All-Weather Championships Finals Day is run for the fifth time this year and the richest of the seven races is the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic (4.40pm) over 10 furlongs, in which Master The World (David Elsworth, 7/2 joint favourite withy the sponsors) will try to follow up his victory in the G3 Betway Winter Derby over the same course and distance on February 24.