Four Horses Aim To Set Up £75,000 Bonus Tilt On AWC Trials


29 February 2024

High-quality fields have assembled for All-Weather Championships Trials Day at Lingfield Park on Friday, March 1, including four winners from Newcastle’s AWC Trials Day hoping to qualify for a chance at a £75,000 bonus.


The winner of each £45,000 handicap will be eligible for free entry to the corresponding Finals Day race at Newcastle, as well as a £30,000 bonus should they go on to win on Good Friday.


Four runners at Lingfield Park – Blue Prince, Dear My Friend, Penzance and Shades Of Summer – are already eligible for a £30,000 bonus thanks to their wins at Newcastle’s AWC Trials Day on January 1. Should they also win at this fixture, they will qualify for a total bonus of £75,000 if successful on Finals Day. 


With a handicap mark of 107, Dear My Friend is the highest rated of 79 runners on the card as he chases a third straight win in the BetMGM AWC Mile Trial Handicap (4.57pm). Charlie Johnston’s runner followed up his Newcastle victory with an all-the-way success in the Listed BetMGM Tandridge Stakes over the track and distance on February 4.


The opposition includes two other in-form rivals in King’s Code (David Evans) and McLean House (Andrew Balding), who both have 5lb penalties for recent wins.


Leading Easter Classic hope Penzance features among a deep field for the BetUK AWC Middle Distance Trial Handicap (4.22pm) over 10 furlongs, with his trainer Mick Appleby and The Horse Watchers also represented by Zealot.


Base Note heads the weights for Simon & Ed Crisford after mixing it with the best on the all-weather this winter, including finishing second in the Listed BetUK Quebec Stakes on his penultimate start.


Irish raider Old Peculiar arrives on the back of three consecutive victories at Dundalk, most recently taking a mile handicap by four and a half lengths on January 16.


Trainer Mark Fahey said: “This is a huge step up in grade for Old Peculiar, but his three wins at Dundalk have been pretty decisive and, if we are going to have a crack at a good pot, now is the time to do it with a light weight on our back.


“Blinkers have been the key to him, without a doubt. He has always showed us a lot of promise, but he never delivered and was a bit frustrating early on. Since we have put the blinkers, he is showing on the track what he shows at home.


“He shows a lot of speed in his work but has the stamina for a mile and a half on the track. I think he is pretty versatile. A mile and a quarter on a sharper track like Lingfield should be fine and we are hopeful that he can keep the good run going.”


A strong lineup also includes James Ferguson’s Diderot, who was a course and distance scorer on Good Friday, the Richard Hannon-trained Talis Evolvere and Wadacre Gomez, successful on two of his last three starts for Charlie Johnston.


Rosario looks the class act in the BetMGM AWC 3-Year-Old Trial Handicap (2.37pm) over six furlongs, a race in which Newcastle scorer Blue Prince also features for David Evans.


After making a winning debut at Ffos Las, Rosario finished third in the G2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster and second in Newmarket’s G3 Cornwallis Stakes.


Trainer Roger Teal told Sky Sports Racing: “Rosario has wintered well and I think the step up to six furlongs will help him. If you saw the Doncaster race against Big Evs, he messed around in the stalls and got left a long way, but he finished the race off nicely. It was the same at Newmarket, where he got unbalanced in the dip.

“He has never loved the stalls. We have been doing a lot of work with him at home, putting him in almost daily, but he does get fractious and does not like being in there too long. Hopefully, the home work will help on the day.”


Roger Varian’s Brave Empire disappointed behind Blue Prince at Newcastle but bounced back with a Lingfield handicap win. Progressive duo Billy Webster and Beyond Borders line up for George Scott and Karl Burke.


Rainbow Dreamer (Alan King) and Fleurman (Olly Murphy), meet again in the BetUK AWC Marathon Trial Handicap (3.47pm) over two miles after finishing first and second in last season’s Marathon Championships.


Rainbow Dreamer’s stable-mate Spartan Army is unbeaten in two starts on the all-weather and bids to defy a 5lb penalty following his eye-catching victory at Southwell last weekend. John & Thady Gosden’s Vaguely Royal, who scored twice over 12 furlongs at the backend of last year, tackles a new distance and wears cheekpieces for the first time.


Stakes winners Flaming Rib (Hugo Palmer), Rohaan (David Evans) and Mums Tipple (Richard Hannon) headline a host of familiar names in the six-furlong BetUK Sprint Trial Handicap (3.12pm).


Roger Teal saddles Chipstead, who narrowly denied Baldomero (Mick Appleby) at Kempton Park in December and has performed with credit in two subsequent starts, including finishing fifth behind One Night Stand (Scott Dixon) at Lingfield Park in January.

Teal said: “Chipstead was too keen the last day at Kempton and basically cooked his own goose. He was drawn badly when he ran over five at Lingfield in January, but he finished very strongly. The sharp six furlongs at Lingfield should be right up his street.”


Harry Charlton’s Batal Dubai and Karl Burke Silky Wilkie run for Middleham Park Racing, while David O’Meara is represented by 2021 all-weather Sprint champion Summerghand.


Newcastle winner Shades Of Summer (Jane Chapple-Hyam) goes for her third straight win in the BetMGM AWC Fillies & Mares Trial Handicap (2.02pm) over seven furlongs.


Other leading players include last season’s Fillies & Mares final runner-up Aramis Grey (Rae Guest) and James Tate’s Cloud Cover, who has won on three of her last four starts on the all-weather.


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