08 April 2019
All-Weather Championships Finals Day is now less than two weeks away and Newmarket trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam is looking forward to saddling Stamford Raffles at the £1-million Polytrack raceday at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, April 19.
Stamford Raffles secured a free and guaranteed place in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship by winning a two-mile Fast-Track Qualifier from the front at Kempton Park on February 16, in which he defeated Spark Plug by a short-head.
The six-year-old, a four-time winner of the All-Weather, reverted to handicap company on his next outing when third under top-weight in a 14-furlong contest at Chelmsford City on March 2.
Chapple-Hyam said today: "Stamford Raffles is in flying form and everyone is really looking forward to next week.
"He has trained well since his run at Chelmsford and, although he will probably be an outsider, he proved at Kempton that he is more than capable of competing at this level.
"I felt we may have run him a little bit quickly at Chelmsford. Richard [Kingscote] who rode him felt that was the case, plus he was giving a lot of weight away to the first and second, but he wasn't disgraced.
"The tempo of the race next week is going to be important. Although I don't think he has to make the running, he is not the type you would want to be taking back as he is a strong galloping horse. It just depends on how he jumps from the stalls and where he is happy in the first part of the race.
"He has been a great servant and won at variety of All-Weather tracks whether it be Kempton, Newcastle or Chelmsford. I don't see Lingfield being a problem."
The 2018 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship was plundered by French raider Funny Kid and there is set to be another fancied contender from France this year in Amade (Alessandro & Giuseppe Botti).
Amade captured a class two handicap impressively on his UK debut at Kempton Park in January and the six-year-old doubled up in great style in a Fast-Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City on March 7, both over two miles.
The other two Fast-Track Qualifiers for the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship were won by Stargazer (Phil Kirby) and Aircraft Carrier (John Ryan).
The most valuable race on All-Weather Championships Finals Day is the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over 10 furlongs, in which the John Gosden-trained Wissahickon will be a warm order after three victories over the course and distance this winter, latterly in the G3 Betway Winter Derby on February 23.