What to expect from the 2019/20 All-Weather Championships
With a brand new season starting in Newcastle on Tuesday, Chad Yeomans explains how it all works and picks out his horses to watch.
The 2019/20 All-Weather Championships get underway at Newcastle today, with four Betway-sponsored races on the card.
It’s difficult to believe that the Championships are now in their seventh campaign, having grown in their popularity since their inception in 2013/2014.
The phenomenal prize money provided by Arena Racing Company (ARC) means they are now able to attract runners from both Ireland and France and, with over £1m up for grabs on Finals Day, that appeal to overseas runners will only continue to grow.
According to ARC, there are two ways for horses to qualify for one of the races on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park, on 10 April 2020.
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 categories, hosted at racecourses in Britain, Ireland and France.
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 in Dubai during the qualifying period between 31 October 2019 and the six-day entry stage for the Finals (04 April 2020) and then be rated high enough to make the cut in a Final by order of BHA rating.
Not so long ago, All-Weather racing was widely looked down upon, with the overall quality failing to set pulses racing. However, with the UK surfaces now matches some of the best in the world, it’s not just on turf where top stables are choosing the launch the careers of some of their superstars.
In recent times, John Gosden has used the All-Weather to gain winning starts for his mighty mare Enable, his staying sensation Stradivarius and, before both of those, Jack Hobbs – who won a maiden at Wolverhampton before going on to achieve many Group successes.
That begs the questions, who will be the next superstar to start their career on an all-weather surface?
Last year, Matterhorn, trained by Mark Johnston, became a reliable pal of punters after winning eight races, and ended his campaign by claiming the scalp of John Gosden’s short-priced favourite Wissahickon in the Betway Easter Classic.
This year, John Gosden could have another improving young horse in the shape of Lord North. He was an easy winner of this year’s Cambridgeshire Handicap, but narrowly failed to concede plenty of weight in testing conditions in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on Saturday.
If his connections opt for a winter All-Weather campaign, he’ll certainly take some stopping, with the Betway Winter Derby the most-likely early target.
Hugo Palmer won the Fillies’ and Mares Championship race last year with Heavenly Holly and he has already mapped out a campaign for Hamish Macbeth, with the Three Year Old Championship race the ultimate target.
He beings his All-Weather campaign at Newcastle today, but faces a competitive field which includes Desert Safari and Temple of Heaven, who could be very smart.
We’re going to be treated to some fantastic action between today at Gosforth Park and Finals Day in Surrey on Good Friday, so good luck to one and all and enjoy the ride.
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