31 December 2018
Fillies and mares take centre stage for the All-Weather Championships at Wolverhampton on Wednesday, January 2, with a six-race afternoon card headlined by the £20,000 Ladbrokes Fillies' Conditions Race (2.50pm, seven runners) over seven furlongs.
The Tapeta contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier, with the winner guaranteed a free start in the £150,000 Ladbrokes Fillies And Mares Championships over the same distance on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 19.
Crossing The Line (Andrew Balding/David Probert) has been successful on four of her six starts as a three-year-old during 2018, while only being narrowly beaten on the two other outings, and comes into Wednesday's contest on a three-race winning streak.
The daughter of Cape Cross followed up turf wins at Chester and York's Ebor Festival with a half-length victory over Lucymai (Dean Ivory/Jack Duern) in a seven-furlong Polytrack handicap at Chelmsford City on December 6.
Lucymai, now 1lb worse off with Crossing The Line, has enjoyed all seven of her victories to date on the All-Weather, the latest of which came in a valuable seven-furlong handicap at Chelmsford City in August.
Pontefract Listed scorer Castle Hill Cassie (Ben Haslam/Jason Watson) posted a career-best last time out, when defeating Ghazawaat by a head in the Ladbrokes Bet £5 Get £20 Fillies' Conditions Race over course and distance on November 16.
The Casamento mare now has a rating of 100, 1lb behind Crossing The Line and Lucymai, though she has to concede 3lb to her six rivals on Wednesday following her success in the Listed Flying Fillies' Stakes at Pontefract in August.
Yorkshire-based trainer Ben Haslam said today: "Castle Hill Cassie has been aimed at All-Weather Championships Finals Day since September.
"She has run in a couple of conditions races so far and needs one more run to qualify for the final.
"Wednesday's race happens to be a Fast-Track Qualifier, but it isn't really relevant in her case as her rating should get her into the final.
"The timescale has worked out quite nicely and she has not had to be too busy during the winter from a racing point of view. She goes there quite fresh with a view to being spot on for April.
"It will probably require a career-best to win on Wednesday, as she has to give 3lb to the rest of the field, which means she is 4lb wrong with a couple of them. But on the flip side she will have that 3lb up her sleeve off level weights come April.
"She does like a strong gallop to aim at, and there are a couple of front runners in the race. We will ride her fairly patiently, as we always do, and more often than not she delivers a very good final furlong.
"After Wednesday, she is going to be covered by Zoustar at Tweenhills Stud, probably in late February or early March. Then she will run on Finals Day hopefully in foal to Zoustar. That will most likely be her swansong.
"She will also have an entry in the Listed Snowdrop Fillies' Stakes at Kempton Park, which takes place the day after Good Friday next year because Easter is so late.
"From the prize money point of view, it is a no-brainer to run at Lingfield, plus I also think the track and trip will suit her better. At the same time, if Kempton looked more winnable, from a breeding point of view it is more valuable.
"Hopefully, Lingfield Park will be her race, as I think it is an important race to support and strengthen."
In-form trainer Mick Channon and jockey Charles Bishop are chasing successive victories in the Ladbrokes Fillies' Conditions Race with Pattie, having taken the spoils 12 months ago with Summer Icon.
Island Of Life (William Haggas/Richard Kingscote) steps up in trip after a pair of smooth All-Weather victories in six-furlong handicaps at Newcastle and Kempton Park.
The seven runners are completed by Miss Bar Beach (Keith Dalgleish/Shane Kelly), who finished third in a couple of Listed contests on turf during the summer, and dual All-Weather scorer Peak Princess (Edward Greatrex), who makes her debut for trainer Archie Watson having previously been with Richard Hannon.Wolverhampton's six-race programme starts at 12.40pm and ends at 3.20pm