All-Weather Championships - Good Effort and Another Touch book Finals Day places at Newcastle
Well-backed Evens favourite Good Effort benefited from an astute front-running ride from Ben Curtis in the £20,000 Betway Conditions Stakes (2.30pm, seven runners) over five furlongs, a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championship (6f) at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, April 10.
Trained in Newmarket by Ismail Mohammed, Good Effort was stepping back in trip today following an impressive conditions race victory over six and a half furlongs on Polytrack at Deauville, France, on December 14.
With stamina assured, Curtis was quick to bag the stands' rail and started to increase the tempo at around halfway.
Good Effort looked in control for much of the final two furlongs, with the rest of the field failing to land a blow until the line loomed.
All-Weather stalwart Royal Berth (Stuart Williams/Jason Hart) finished well to reduce the winning margin to a neck, with the filly Hareem Queen (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee) three-quarters of a length further back in third.
Curtis said: "Newcastle is not really an ideal track for that sort of running style - I gave him a good kick out [from the stalls] and wanted to make sure I got his head in front.
"We went a nice gallop the whole way and he was just playing with them at the end.
He was pulling up a bit and not doing a whole lot. Luckily, the line came in time. "He stays further on softer ground, so I knew staying would not be a problem, but he just got a little lonely in front, though he went on again when the other horse came to him. "I think being able to gain that couple of lengths at the start, sitting on him until the two and then going again, worked perfectly. He has his ears pricked there and I think he is a happy horse coming out of it. "He should be all right around Lingfield as he showed a lot of speed there, which he will need on Finals Day. "I will leave it up to the powers that be and connections about where they go with him, as there might be a race in between, but he is clearly thriving at the moment."
Another Touch (Richard Fahey/Barry McHugh) looks a worthy contender for the £150,000 Bombardier All-Weather Mile Championship on Good Friday judged on his decisive victory in the £25,000 Bombardier Golden Beer Conditions Stakes (3.00pm, five runners) over a mile.
The Fast-Track Qualifier was a tactical affair, with outsider Trevithick (Bryan Smart/Graham Lee) taking the runners along at a steady pace.
Another Touch quickened between horses to challenge second favourite Via Serendipity (Stuart Williams/Hayley Turner) entering the final furlong and readily overcame that rival to score by three quarters of a length.
Home Before Dusk (Keith Dalgleish/Callum Rodriguez) finished third.
Another Touch, a Listed winner on turf in 2017, did not race on the All-Weather until November and is now unbeaten three starts on artificial surfaces, with today's victory coming on the back of handicap successes at Chelmsford City and Lingfield Park.
McHugh said: "They did not go very quick. Me and Richard [Fahey, trainer] were worried about that when we were speaking this morning, but we felt we had to ride him the same. "He is going through his races a lot better now - he is really travelling and is like a little motorbike. He is very uncomplicated and makes a jockey's life very easy. "He would have a fair shout around Lingfield with a good pace on and is a grand little horse."
About the All-Weather Championships Season seven of the All-Weather Championships runs from Tuesday, October 22, 2019 and culminates with All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday, April 10, 2020 at Lingfield Park.
The seven races on All-Weather Championships Finals Day are worth a total of £1 million.
The season seven information pack can be downloaded by following this link and scrolling down to the bottom of the page: https://www.awchampionships.co.uk/about-the-championship/all-weather-explained/
The six championship categories are:
£150,000 Three-Year-Olds sponsored by Ladbrokes - 6f Final
£150,000 Fillies & Mares sponsored by Ladbrokes - 7f Final
£150,000 Mile sponsored by Bombardier - 1m Final
£150,000 Sprint sponsored by Betway - 6f Final
£150,000 Marathon sponsored by Betway - 2m Final
£200,000 Middle Distance sponsored Betway - 10f Final
There are two ways for horses to qualify for one of the finals on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park: * A horse can win a 'Fast Track Qualifier' race which will ensure a FREE and GUARANTEED place in the corresponding final on Good Friday.
There are four Fast Track Qualifiers in each of the six Championship Categories hosted at racecourses in Great Britain, Ireland and France.
If a filly wins any of the Fast-Track Qualifier races for either the Sprint or the Mile categories, the filly will be qualified for the final of that specific category, or for the Fillies and Mares Final. or * A horse must run a minimum of three times on the All-Weather surfaces in Great Britain, Ireland and France; or twice on the All-Weather surfaces in Great Britain, Ireland, France and once on dirt in Dubai during the qualifying period between October 22, 2019 and the six-day entry stage for the finals (Saturday, April 4, 2020) and then be rated high enough to 'make the cut' in a final by order of its BHA Rating.