All-Weather Championships: Who were our star performers?
With Finals Day unable to take place on Good Friday, Chad Yeomans dishes out his unofficial awards to horses and jockeys in the Betway-sponsored categories.
BETWAY SPRINT CATEGORY
Star Performer: Judicial
Judicial earned himself a place in the final with a superb performance in the Betway Golden Rose Stakes at Lingfield Park in November.
Julie Camacho’s eight-year-old – who was still seven when he won – came widest of all down the Lingfield straight to fly past his rivals and win going away.
It would have been a long journey to the track from their yard in Malton that morning, but you can bet the return leg flew by.
The division was sadly marred by the passing of the sprint king, Kachy, in February.
He played a huge part in the rise of popularity of the All-Weather Championships, and racing fans were eagerly awaiting the return of the fastest horse we’ve ever seen on the polytrack surface.
He is a huge loss for his connections and hopefully they find another like him who can take them to similar heights.
BETWAY MIDDLE DISTANCE CATEGORY
Star Performer: Dubai Warrior
Frankie dictates from the front & Dubai Warrior plunders the G3 Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield 😍 pic.twitter.com/PXPzrHWaI1— ODDSbible Racing (@ODDSbibleRacing) February 22, 2020
As a two-year-old, Dubai Warrior only made one start on a racecourse, which came later in the year when he went to Chelmsford for his debut.
He earned quotes for the Derby after making light work of his rivals, and his trainer, John Gosden, wasn’t ruling out a shot at the blue-riband race.
The son of Dansili obviously wasn’t the easiest to train as we didn’t see him again until the following August, when he once again won in authoritative fashion on his second start at Kempton.
The first time I saw this colt in the flesh was just before the Betway Quebec Stakes at Lingfield in December, when I was really taken aback by his size. He is humongous. He looks like a chaser – a real big stamp of a horse.
I was surprised that he could win around Lingfield, which is a tight track often suited by smaller and more compact types who better handle the sharp corners.
He then faced Bangkok from Betway ambassador Andrew Balding’s yard in the Betway Winter Derby, who had won the trial for the same race in record-breaking time.
Dubai Warrior had Frankie Dettori on board for his first domestic ride of 2020 that day. Straight away, he set a frantic pace from the front in a game of ‘Catch me if you can’, and they couldn’t.
His class and long stride were utilised perfectly by Dettori, winning by just under three lengths.
The Betway Easter Classic was on his agenda and it will be interesting to see where he goes when the turf season resumes.
BETWAY MARATHON CATEGORY
Star Performer: Rainbow Dreamer
Emphatic! Rainbow Dreamer is booted clear on the bend under an enterprising ride from @HollieDoyle1 to make it four from four on the All-Weather and take the @awchamps Fast-Track Qualifier for Alan King at @WolvesRaces #MNF pic.twitter.com/Ts1r0PRQUh— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) January 13, 2020
Rainbow Dreamer was rated 92 when he won a 2m contest at Kempton in December.
However, the Alan King-trained gelding showed a huge appreciate for a synthetic surface, completing a four-timer on all-weather tracks that culminated in a four-length success back at Kempton in February.
For me, his most impressive performance came when completing the third of those four consecutive victories in the Betway Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton in January. He beat the French-trained Funny Kid and Deal A Dollar that day with Raymond Tusk, the odds-on favourite, back in fourth.
He was superbly ridden by Hollie Doyle would have taken plenty of beating in the Betway Marathon on Finals Day.
I won’t be the first to praise these jockeys, but they’ve all shown class and skill in the saddle this season.
Ben Curtis must get the first mention after being denied the opportunity to set a new record for the highest number of wins in an All-Weather season, with no less than 101 victories to his name before the action was paused.
That was just one short of Luke Morris’ current record, and there is no doubt that Curtis would have broken it to set the bar even higher for the next challenger. He’s a top rider and I hope he gets some big rides on the turf this year.
Hollie Doyle is another jockey who deserves singling out. In my opinion, she is already in the top bracket of all female riders ever, and I’ve no doubt she’ll show everyone just how good she is once she gets some opportunities in the bigger races on turf.
Young George Rooke, who is attached to Richard Hughes’ yard, was crowned Champion Apprentice Jockey after riding 24 winners and, again, once he’s given the chances on turf, I’m sure he’ll back up his successes and will be good value for his claim.
Trainer Michael Appleby also ended the season with an excellent 54 winners. He had his horses in good form all winter and he’ll no doubt hit the ground running in next season’s All-Weather campaign.
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