All-Weather race tracks in the UK
With the All-Weather Championships now underway, Will Bowler takes you through everything you need to know about the six participating racecourses.
The Surrey venue was the first to host an All-Weather meeting back in 1989 and is also the only track in the UK to host Flat turf racing and jumps as well.
The surface at Lingfield is Polytrack, which has been around a bit longer than others. It offers almost no kickback and the surface regains its shape relatively soon after it has been run on.
Lingfield is the most undulating of all the courses, with a left-handed triangular track which is approximately 1m 2f around.
The main race outside of Finals Day would be the Betway Winter Derby, which is (provisionally) scheduled to take place on 22 February 2021. That contest forms part of the Middle-Distance series of races and is a Fast-Track Qualifier (FTQ), therefore giving the winner a definite place in the Betway Easter Classic on Good Friday.
The Marathon and Sprint finals are also sponsored by Betway. Two FTQs that are held at the track in the Sprint division are the Listed Golden Rose Stakes on 14 November 2020 and the Betway Kachy Stakes – recently renamed after a previous dual winner and track record holder who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Ones to watch
Jockey Adam Kirby is known for his swashbuckling style and attacks down the side of the hill – a tactic that is particularly effective on older horses who are a bit longer in the tooth and need waking up a bit more than others.
Rhys Clutterbuck, based with Gary Moore, is another who rides this track really well. He’s picking up some nice spare rides and has a 45 per cent win-or-place strike rate, plus profit to a pound stake, too.
Wolverhampton is a Tapeta surface – the brainchild of Michael Dickinson, one of the best jumps trainers there has been. Tapeta is fresher and more organically produced, consisting of silica sand, waxes and fibres that create a great racing surface that is highly thought of by trainers.
It’s a left-handed oval of around 7½f with two separate chutes used for 6f and 7f races – the latter of which has a short run into a bend, making a middle-to-low draw a huge advantage. The same can be said for the 5f races that allow only a furlong to get a position before the sweeping bend back for home.
It was the first of the All-Weather venues to install floodlights, allowing their popular Saturday night meetings to attract a good crowd.
The likes of Toast Of New York, Jack Hobbs and Pinatubo have all won races here in the past. If you'd like to know which horses to keep an eye on this year, here are five horses to watch.
Their feature races in the winter would be the Lady Wulfruna Stakes and Lincoln Trial in March.
Ones to watch
Trainer David Loughnane has had a fantastic 2020 and hovers around a 13 per cent strike rate with handicappers aged three or older.
Roger Teal – who trained his first Group 1 winner this summer – has a 14 per cent strike rate, mainly dealing in handicaps.
The more obvious yards of Sir Michael Stoute and Betway ambassador Andrew Balding also have strike rates of well over 20 per cent.
The newest All-Weather venue with another Tapeta track that boasts the only straight mile on an artificial surface in the world.
Newcastle held the UK’s first All-Weather Group 1 last October when staging the rescheduled Vertem Futurity, which was won by subsequent 2000 Guineas winner, Kameko.
Newcastle has also been a venue where John Gosden has run many of his stars, too, with Stradivarius, Enable, Without Parole and Palace Pier all having won races here before going on to better things.
Ones to watch
It’s always well worth watching any novice and maiden races here as they tend to unearth a lot of smart horses that go on to run on either the All-Weather or the turf.
Trainer Antony Brittain has plenty of horses that excel on the All-Weather, particularly at Gosforth Park, where he has a 19 per cent strike rate in 2020 with a chunky level stakes profit.
Jim Goldie is another to keep on side when he travels south of the border from his Scottish base.
Southwell is a unique track as it is the only Fibresand track on the circuit. The surface acts as a sand dune would whereby the more moisture is absorbs, the faster it will ride – like playing football or cricket on a beach.
Southwell has a straight five furlong chute and, in the 2019, they invested many millions of pounds in a set of LED floodlights – the likes of which you can find at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – in order to enable extra meetings to take place.
Southwell offers plenty of good sprint handicaps throughout the All-Weather Championships season, where there will be plenty of horses rated in the high 90s making appearance.
Ones to watch
On-site trainer Scott Dixon runs many regular faces at the course including Samovar and the 13-time course winner Crosse Fire.
Course specialists are very handy to keep on side together with horses from both the Mick Appleby and Karl Burke stables. Burke likes to target a variety of races and, in the last five years, boasts a 22 per cent strike rate with a huge level stakes profit.
Fibresand is the closest surface to dirt, which is raced on in America, therefore any American sires are also worth looking out for.
Kempton is yet another Polytrack course and is the only right-handed All-Weather track in the UK.
There is a pronounced cut-away just inside the two-furlong marker which can completely change races, opening the track out wide to allow the back markers plenty of space to mount their challenges.
There’s always an abundance of big yards with representatives at every meeting, with the course being in a good location for the Newmarket trainers.
There is a fast-track qualifier in the Betway sponsored Marathon division provisionally scheduled for 16 February 2021.
Ones to watch
Two angles of note are low draws (horses drawn in the first three stalls) over 5f and James Fanshawe runners in handicaps, both of which are generally profitable at around 15 per cent.
Chelmsford City, formerly Great Leighs, was reopened after six years of being left dormant in 2015 with a big investment to refresh the Polytrack surface and add floodlights, too.
The track is similar to Wolverhampton in its configuration, though Chelmsford has a considerably longer home straight.
There is a 2m Conditions Stakes that takes place in early March, which is a FTQ for the Betway sponsored Marathon division final.
Ones to watch
Two stables who do well at the track include Stuart Williams and Jane Chapple-Hyam. Both operate above their usual average at the course with the latter having some big-priced winners under promising apprentice Levi Williams.
Visit Betway's horse racing betting page.