Watersmeet (Mark Johnston/Joe Fanning, 11/2) outbattled French challenger Funny Kid (Christophe Ferland/Maxime Guyon, 8/1) to win the £19,000 Betway Live Casino Conditions Race (6.40pm) on Tapeta at Wolverhampton on Monday evening, January 15.
By taking the extended two-mile Fast-Track Qualifier in a new course record time of 3m 31.92s (previous record 3m 33.34s), Watersmeet gained a free and guaranteed place in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships over two miles on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, March 30.
The gutsy grey seven-year-old finished runner-up in last year’s Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships and will be trying to go one better in 2018, with Betway making him a 4/1 chance for Good Friday.
There was a strong 11-runner field for this Fast-Track Qualifier with Godolphin’s Group One-placed Frontiersman (Charlie Appleby/Adam Kirby) sent off the Evens favourite.
Cape Cova (Michael Appleby/Dougie Costello, 6/1), who led early, regained the advantage with five furlongs remaining before the always-prominent Watersmeet went for home at the quarter-mile pole.
Funny Kid, Maxime Guyon’s first mount at Wolverhampton, raced in fifth towards the outside and quickly came through to challenge Watersmeet and drew level with the winner just inside the final furlong.
But Watersmeet was not for passing and rallied gamely to triumph by a neck at the line, with a length and three quarters back to Frontiersman, who tried to reel in the front two but threw away his chance by hanging left inside the final furlong. The first three finished clear of the others.
Joe Fanning commented: “Watersmeet is a good horse and always runs well on the All-Weather.
“He is very straightforward and he doesn’t to need to lead. There was plenty of pace and he picked up well in the straight and battled back.
“To be honest, inside the final furlong, I thought the other horse was going to beat me. I gave Watersmeet a crack – he is tough and he came back.
“He has run good races at every All-Weather track and Mark Johnston’s team do an excellent job with him.”
This was Watersmeet’s ninth All-Weather victory for owner John Barson