All-Weather Champion Jockey elect David Probert looks to crown a brilliant season with a strong book of rides on Finals Day at Newcastle tomorrow, April 15.
Following his best season on turf last year, the 33-year-old has led the All-Weather standings from an early stage and heads into tomorrow’s finale on 82 winners, 20 clear of his closest challenger Hollie Doyle.
Probert is expecting a bold show from market leader Imperial Fighter in the opening Listed Coral Burradon Stakes (1.30pm). Having made a winning debut at Glorious Goodwood, the 2,000 Guineas entry was second at G3 level on two occasions before finishing fifth behind Luxembourg in the G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.
The jockey teams up with last year’s runner-up Exalted Angel in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships (2.35pm) and Fast-Track Qualifier winner Fauvette in the £150,000 Coral All-Weather Fillies’ & Mares’ Championships (3.45pm).
His final ride on the card is Nate The Great in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships (4.15pm), with the six-year-old arriving on the back of a course and distance success in early March.
Probert said: “Imperial Fighter has come through the winter in good shape and this looks a good opportunity for him to get his head in front early in the season.
“He was a progressive horse last year and I don’t think he was disgraced by any means in the Vertem Futurity Trophy, as he was only beaten two and a half lengths.
“I think Newcastle will suit him, although he is quite a keen-going horse. I would have preferred a bit more speed in the race, but he is fairly uncomplicated and we will see how it pans out.
“I spoke to Karl [Burke, trainer] yesterday about Exalted Angel and he is expecting a big run. I think you are going to need a bit of luck in this race, which hasn’t been with him in his last couple of runs. He is certainly capable of running a good race.
“I think the Fillies’ & Mares’ race could set up nicely for Fauvette. She likes to be ridden for a turn of foot and the stiff track should suit her well. I won on her at Chelmsford during the winter and she put the race to bed quite nicely. It would be great for the Guests were she to win.
“Nate The Great is a lovely old horse. It was a surprise to us the way he stuck his head down to win at Newcastle last time out. He clearly handles the track well and there are plenty of runners in the race, including a few pace angles. That will suit him because he stays strongly and he should give a good account of himself.”
Of his All-Weather title win, Probert told Great British Racing: “It’s great. It has rolled on from a very good season last season, but I’ve been very lucky to ride for plenty of different trainers. It means a lot to win and it’s a big achievement, hopefully it bounces into a good grass season.
“It always helps to stay around in the winter and keep my face in the game. I have built up good connections who have helped me and given me plenty of opportunities, so I owe a huge thank you to all the owners and trainers who have supported me.”
Speaking of the season ahead, he added: “We have lots of good horses this season at Andrew’s [Balding], including some really nice three-year-olds like Sandrine who is going in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas. Hopefully, there are plenty of chances to get that elusive Group One.
“It would be nice to get one on the board, but I am just going to take it daily and monthly and see where we are. I am coming off the back of a very good year last year so I am aiming at quality more than anything, but I would always like to get as many winners as possible.”