All-Weather Championships Media Release - Walker and Meehan aiming to upset big guns in Betway Easter Classic
All eyes will be on Bangkok and Forest Of Dean as they clash for a third time this season in the feature Betway Easter Classic (4.15pm) at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 2.
On their most recent encounter in the Listed Betway Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield Park on February 6, Bangkok quickened best to beat Felix by a half-length with a neck back to Forest Of Dean in third. Bangkok skipped the G3 Betway Winter Derby three weeks later in favour of a tilt at the Saudi Cup, leaving Forest Of Dean to reverse the placings with Felix and provide trainer John Gosden with a third consecutive victory in the 10-furlong highlight.
Bangkok (Andrew Balding/Silvestre de Sousa), who is the course record holder over 10 furlongs at Lingfield Park, is the 6/5 favourite with Betway. Forest Of Dean (James Doyle) is next in at 7/4.
Bangkok setting a course record of 2m 0.54s in the 2020 Betway Winter Derby Trial Ed Walker and Brian Meehan are hoping to cause upsets with Assimilation (Luke Morris) and Palavecino (Martin Dwyer).
Assimilation captured the Lincoln Trial Handicap at Wolverhampton last season and has progressed again this winter, latterly powering home to land a 10-furlong class two handicap at Kempton Park on March 3.
Walker said: “Assimilation is in cracking form. Whatever he lacks in ability, he makes up for in heart and determination.
“Six months ago, if you said to me that he would have a chance on Finals Day, I would have laughed at you. He just continues to surprise us with his progress through the ranks.
“He seems to be thriving and Luke Morris knows him inside out. He probably won’t be good enough but who knows? He always surprises us and is versatile tactically, which could be an asset in a race like this.”
Palavecino has run two good races over the course and distance this season.
The five-year-old was last seen out when fourth behind Sangarius in a strong edition of the Listed Betway Quebec Stakes in mid-December, a race in which Bangkok was second.
“Palavecino had a break over Christmas as he’d had a busy enough time of it up until then.
“It just seemed a good moment to give him some time off and he has come back really well. We have had an eye on the Easter Classic the whole time and his preparation has gone very smoothly.
“He is fresh, he is improving, and I would see him in there with a very solid chance.”
Mark Johnston won the most recent running of the Betway Easter Classic with Matterhorn in 2019.
The Middleham trainer is represented by Sky Defender, a G3 runner-up on turf who turns out quickly after finishing behind Global Giant in the Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton Park last weekend.
Lightly raced four-year-old Byford (Ivan Furtado/Jason Hart), a snug winner of a 10-furlong handicap at Lingfield Park on his penultimate start, completes the field.
Betway Easter Classic - Betway prices:
7/4 Forest Of Dean
16/1 Sky Defender
Finals Day begins at 2.00pm with the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships over just shy of two miles.
The seven runners are headed by Rainbow Dreamer (Alan King/Martin Harley) and Ranch Hand (Andrew Balding/James Doyle), both successful in Fast-Track Qualifiers on their latest starts.
A classy field has assembled for the Bombardier All-Weather Mile Championships (4.45pm, 10 runners).
Mums Tipple (Sean Levey) aims to continue Richard Hannon’s 100 per cent record in the race while Khuzaam (Roger Varian/Jack Mitchell) would be a poignant winner in the colours of the late Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Hollie Doyle teams up with Irish hope Harry’s Bar (Ado McGuinness) in the Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships (3.10pm) over six furlongs.
A maximum field of 12 also features Stewards’ Cup hero Summerghand (David O’Meara/Adam Kirby) and Listed Betway Kachy Stakes victor Exalted Angel (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee). Pattern race performers Mighty Gurkha (Archie Watson/Hollie Doyle) and Apollo One (Peter Charalambous/Martin Harley) head 10 runners in the Ladbrokes Three-Year-Old Championships (3.45pm) over six furlongs.
The highly regarded Diligent Harry (Clive Cox/Adam Kirby) is another contender to note.
Indie Angel (John & Thady Gosden/Martin Harley) is the class act in the Ladbrokes All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares' Championships (2.35pm, six runners) over seven furlongs.
The four-year-old is aiming to give her owner Cheveley Park Stud a second win in the race following Diagnostic in 2018.
The seven-race programme is completed by the Bombardier All-Weather Championships Apprentice Handicap (5.15pm, 14 runners), in which 2019 All-Weather Mile champion Oh This Is Us (Richard Hannon) will be ridden by Luke Catton.
About the All-Weather Championships Season eight of the All-Weather Championships runs from Tuesday, October 20, 2020 and culminates with All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday, April 2, 2021 at Lingfield Park.
The six championship categories are:
Three-Year-Olds sponsored by Ladbrokes - 6f Final
Fillies & Mares sponsored by Ladbrokes - 7f Final
Mile sponsored by Bombardier - 1m Final
Sprint sponsored by Betway - 6f Final
Marathon sponsored by Betway - 2m Final
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.
* 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 20, 2020 and the six-day entry stage for the finals (Saturday, March 28, 2021) and then be rated high enough to 'make the cut' in a final by order of its BHA Rating.
In addition, prizes will be awarded to each of the All-Weather Champions - the 'All Stars' - based on the number of winners at the end of the All-Weather Championships season:
Champion All-Weather Jockey (winner and runner up)
Champion All-Weather Apprentice Jockey (winner and runner up)
Champion All-Weather Trainer
Champion All-Weather Owner
Winning Most All-Weather Horse
For details of the 24 Fast-Track Qualifiers, please click here: https://www.awchampionships.co.uk/take-part/fast-track-qualifier-dates/ Fast-Track Qualifier winners so far:
1 - 3YO, October 20, Newcastle, 6f, SIGNFICANTLY (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee)
2 - F&M, October 29, Lingfield Park, 1m, INDIE ANGEL (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori)
3 - F&M, November 13, Dundalk (IRE), 1m, UMMALNAR (William Haggas/Chris Hayes)
4 - MD, November 14, Lingfield Park, 1m 2f, DUBAI WARRIOR (John Gosden/Robert Havlin)
5 - SPRINT, November 14, Lingfield Park, 6f, GOOD EFFORT (Ismail Mohammed/Ray Dawson)
6 - MILE, November 18, Kempton Park, 1m, KINROSS (Ralph Beckett/Richard Kingscote)
7 - MD, November 25, Deauville (FR), 1m 1½f, SKY POWER (Gael Barbedette/Stephane Pasquier)
8 - 3YO, December 5, Wolverhampton, 6f, VICTORY HEIGHTS (James Tate/PJ McDonald)
9 - MA, December 12, Newcastle, 2m 56y, ISLAND BRAVE (Heather Main/Cieren Fallon)
10 - F&M, January 4, Wolverhampton, 7f, AMNIARIX (Ed Walker/Richard Kingscote)
11 - SPRINT, January 12, Newcastle, 5f, VENTUROUS (David Barron/Tom Marquand)
12 - MILE, January 12, Newcastle, 1m, BLESS HIM (David Simcock/Jamie Spencer)
13 - MA, January 18, Wolverhampton, 2m ½f, MILDENBERGER (Mark Johnston/Joe Fanning)
14 - 3YO, January 25, Kempton Park, 6f, MIGHTY GURKHA (Archie Watson/Hollie Doyle)
15 - SPRINT, February 6, Lingfield Park, 6f, EXALTED ANGEL (Karl Burke/Clifford Lee)
16 - MD, February 6, Lingfield Park, 1m 2f, BANGKOK (Andrew Balding/Ryan Moore)
17 - MA, February 6, Kempton Park, 2m, RAINBOW DREAMER (Alan King/Hollie Doyle)
18 - F&M, February 18, Chelmsford City, 7f, SHIMMERING DAWN (James Tate/Tom Eaves)
19 - MILE, February 20, Cagnes-sur-Mer (FR), 1m, WALLY (Jean-Claude Rouget/Jean-Bernard Eyquem)
20 - MD, February 27, Lingfield Park, 1m 2f, FOREST OF DEAN (John Gosden/Robert Havlin)
21 - SPRINT, March 2, Chantilly (FR), 6½f, DUHAIL (Andre Fabre/Vincent Cheminaud)
22 - 3YO, March 6, Lingfield Park, 7f, APOLLO ONE (Peter Charalambous/Martin Harley)
23 - MILE, March 13, Wolverhampton, 7f, MUMS TIPPLE (Richard Hannon/Ryan Moore)
24 - MA, March 13, Chelmsford City, 2m, RANCH HAND (Andrew Balding/PJ McDonald)
For more information on the All-Weather Championships, please visit www.awchampionships.co.uk