Middle-distance star Wissahickon and top sprinter Kachy booked their places for All-Weather Championships Finals Day with very impressive displays in Listed Fast-Track Qualifiers on Polytrack at Lingfield Park today, Saturday, February 2.
Wissahickon gained a free and automatic place in the 10-furlong £200,000 Betway Easter Classic at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, April 19, as he totally outclassed his rivals with a cheeky success over the same distance in the £45,000 Listed Betway Winter Derby Trial.
The 117-rated four-year-old Tapit colt, trained by John Gosden for leading US owner/breeder George Strawbridge, soon settled in third on the inside of the eight-strong field behind stable companion Court House (5/1, Robert Havlin) and Big Country (5/1, Michael Appleby/Luke Morris).
Wissahickon, the 8/15 favourite, travelled strongly into the race under Frankie Dettori, but was hemmed in on the inside rail behind Court House with Big Country moving up to hit the front with a furlong to race.
Dettori had to switch out and come around Big Country, but Wissahckon put the race to bed in a matter of strides, running on strongly under a hands and heels ride to cruise home when eased down to triumph by three quarters of a length in a fast 2m 1.53s.
Big Country took second, with another two and a quarter lengths back to Court House, with the first three home clear of Chiefofchiefs (14/1, Charlie Fellows/Richard Kingscote) in fourth.
Wissahickon is the 4/6 favourite with Betway to follow up with another 10-furlong success at Lingfield Park in the G3 Betway Derby on February 23, which is set to be his next appearance.
Newmarket-based Gosden commented: "Wissahickon got in a box, but managed to conjure his way out. He has a good turn of foot and the form is very solid with Court House, but he did well to quicken up from that position.
"It didn't go according to plan. We were hoping for a nice split, but Luke (Morris) was quite correctly keeping it tight, so Frankie had to check and come round.
"Full marks to the horse and jockey - there were three nice horses out there running in what is a good programme that they have put on for us on the All-Weather.
"The obvious plan is to go for the Winter Derby and the Easter Classic. I have always been a great supporter of All-Weather racing and, when they put programmes together like this, they should be supported."
Gosden and Strawbridge teamed up to win the 2018 Betway Winter Derby Trial with Utmost, who went on to annexe a G2 in Canada, and an international campaign could also be on the agenda for Wissahickon later in the year.
The trainer continued: "Wissahickon is a lovely horse who will probably end up racing in America come the fall and next year. He is a Tapit, so he is really going to suit the surfaces out there.
"He has run a lovely race today and enjoys this surface. He has only had one mess-up, when we got the tactics wrong on the July Course, otherwise he has a pretty clean sheet."
Dettori, enjoying a winning first ride of 2019 in the UK, said: "Wissahickon is a lovely horse, who has improved with every run.
"In general, they split at Lingfield Park and I was trying to be patient, but I had so much horse that I went round he won with ease.
"My last ride on him in the Cambridgeshire was amazing. He was a horse who worried a little bit, but he is getting a lot better with racing and tender loving care. He is a proper horse now.
"He is definitely out of handicaps now and it is Group races for him from now onwards."
Kachy, the 10/11 favourite, added a second All-Weather course record to his CV with a blistering performance in the six-furlong £45,000 Listed Betway Cleves Stakes to set up another tilt at the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championship on Good Friday.
The Tom Dascombe-trained six-year-old Kyllachy horse, who broke the record for the same distance at Wolverhampton in December, showed excellent speed from the stalls for Richard Kingscote and took up the running, despite being drawn in stall eight of the nine runners.
Kachy quickly established a clear lead and went further clear off the home turn and never looked in danger in the straight, with Kingscote easing his mount on the line to come home three and a half lengths clear of Gorgeous Noora (8/1, Archie Watson/Hollie Doyle) in 1m 8.32s, shaving almost half a second off the previous best time of 1m 8.75s.
It was a second successive Betway Cleves Stakes win for Kachy, following a short-head verdict 12 months ago, and he is 6/4 favourite with Betway for the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championship, in which he was second to French raider City Light last year.
Colin Gorman, assistant trainer to Cheshire-based Tom Dascombe, commented: "Kachy did very well on Boxing Day at Wolverhampton and it was another track record today.
"I wouldn't say that he is better than last year, but he is just a bit more relaxed with his racing and life in general. It was a good performance.
"He has walked into the stalls today and I thought 'Oh God, he looks a bit quiet!' but he is so electric and Richard is very good out of the stalls. He gets the horse into a good stride very quickly and Kachy takes a lot of catching back - he is definitely a quick horse.
"I would say that we will leave him alone now until Good Friday. He definitely does better fresh, but Tom will have the final word.
"We have beaten convincingly the horses that we have taken on so far this season. Last year on Good Friday), we just didn't get into our stride quick enough and used a little bit of horse in the early part of the race.
"He has been jumping really quickly this year and taken two or three lengths out of the field. Better draws are obviously helpful - it gives Richard a bit of a chance to try and get a little bit of a breather coming down the hill.
"Going into Good Friday this year, you would have to be not confident, but we are really looking forward to it."
Kingscote added: "Kachy is quick, he is happy to do it and he has some ability to back it up as well.
"He is such a muscular horse who has always been a bit raspy. I think having a wind operation has helped a touch, but I don't think that it has brought about lots and lots of improvement because the ability was there anyway.
"I think it is just making life a little easier for him and, since he has been on these turning tracks, he has been a different class.
"He has grown up a lot in recent years - he used to be quite keen on the way to the start and the guys that ride him out at home have done some good work. He is turning into a mature animal and he knows when the job is now.
"Even today, he didn't like it when I took a bit of a grip around that first bend - he wanted to do it himself - and we got into a bit of a fight. He is just much faster and better than the rest of them."
Archie Watson is the trainer of runner-up, five-year-old Raven's Pass mare Gorgeous Noora, who is due to be covered at the end of the month by Zoustar who stands at part-owner David Redvers' Tweenhills Stud, and eighth home Corinthia Knight.
The Lambourn handler remarked: "Gorgeous Noora was bought with the intention of getting black type and I am delighted with her.
"I think Kachy is a G1 horse under these sort of conditions on his day and Gorgeous Noora has run a very good race, beating some very good sprinters.
"She is improving fast and I think she is unexposed as a sprinter. I hope that we can get some winning black type over the coming months.
"I have asked to have her until the end of June because Hollie (Doyle) feels that she will be a better filly on the turf.
"Eddie Greatrex was saying that one of the jockeys was saying 'no, no, no' as he anticipating the jump, so Corinthia Knight has jumped when the gates are closed and ended up falling out the back. It was game over for him from there.
"Both horses will come back for the Listed Betway Hever Sprint over five furlongs in three weeks' time."
Dettori kept his 100 per cent British record for 2019 when capturing the last race, the Ladbrokes Handicap, over 10 furlongs decisively on Murray River, also trained by Gosden.