All-Weather stalwart Kelleway eagerly anticipating Good Friday

March 24th, 2016 Other

Trainer Gay Kelleway has been a supporter of All-Weather racing for over 20 years, having enjoyed her first winner when Duball Remy scored in a maiden at Southwell on November 22, 1993.

Since that date, the Exning-based hander has gone on to enjoy over 200 winners on the All-Weather, including 11 so far this season.

She gained a first victory on All-Weather Championships Finals Day in 2015 when Lightscameraction landed the £150,000 Unibet Three-Year-Old Sprint with Luke Morris up.

Speaking today, Kelleway reflected: “I think the All-Weather Championships have been a fantastic innovation.

“For me personally, I have stayed at home this winter rather than going to the south of France because the prize money has gone up so much. It has been fabulous and we have won close to £100,000 in prize money. I have no complaints at all.

“For a trainer like myself, who only has a few horses, I have been able to really focus on the All-Weather and target both Listed races and decent prize money.

“With only 25 horses, the summer season frightens me a bit when you see all the beautifully-bred horses and big owners. I have cut down on buying two-year-olds and have concentrated on buying older horses who can be campaigned on the All-Weather.

“It is very hard to win to win turf races in April and May. I see American trainer Wesley Ward is going to have a runner in the Brocklesby Stakes and I think about six trainers have told they are going to win it.

“So thank God for decent All-Weather racing. It has really helped me and has just got bigger and better.

“Long live Good Friday is all I can say. If I had more horses of the calibre required, I would have run them.

“I ran out of time to qualify with a few of mine but Good Friday has always been on my mind throughout the winter.

“I think the three runs needed to qualify works perfectly as it stops the big yards just turning up on the day. It has really helped a trainer like myself.”

Tomorrow Kelleway will saddle a team of three, headed by Lightscameraction (Luke Morris) who will attempt a second victory on All-Weather Championships Final Day when he lines up in the £150,000 Unibet All-Weather Sprint (2.10pm).

Her other two contenders are Royal Marskell (Luke Morris) in the 32Red All-Weather Marathon (2.40pm, 13 runners) and Yeah Baby Yeah (David Probert) in the £150,000 32Red All-Weather Three-Year-Old Mile Championships (4.45pm, nine runners).

Lightscameraction has made five appearances so far this All-Weather Championships season, winning twice, including last time out on February 27 at Lingfield Park when he scored by a neck from Take Cover in the Listed Unibet Hever Sprint Stakes over five furlongs. All of his four wins to date have come over five furlongs at the Surrey course.

Kelleway said: “Lightscameraction has been in fantastic form since his win at Lingfield Park last time but it will be tough from his draw tomorrow (14) – he is almost on the East Grinstead road! On the plus side, he does have Lancelot Du Lac next to him in stall 13.

“I do think he will get six furlongs. You have to remember he is still only four, so is still a bit of a baby. We could have pushed and gone to Dubai with him but he is strengthening up and I think he will get better as the year goes on. He will be even better next winter.

“There is no race over five furlongs for him on Good Friday so we have to have a go with him tomorrow, especially as the prize money is so good.

“With his draw, we have to make up a length or two more than if he had been drawn in the middle so it’s tough call. He is a good horse and on the same level as a lot of them in the race.

“He is a forward-going horse so we can’t be clever with him and try and hold him up, so it does put us in a difficult position. We will lose a length or two early, which could cost us the race, but he couldn’t be going there is better form.”

Yeah Baby Yeah’s most recent run was when winning a maiden over an extended six furlongs on Polytrack at Chantilly in France on February 9. The three-year-old daughter of Art Connoisseur showed some good form in 2015, most notably when third in a Listed contest on turf at Deauville behind subsequent black-type scorers Yakaba and Log Out Island.

Kelleway continued: “The champion jockey in France, Pierre-Charles Boudot, won on Yeah Baby Yeah in France last time and he said that it was the wrong trip for her as she will get further.

“She has had a break since her last run and we have freshened her up. She is a hold-up horse so her draw (nine) doesn’t really worry me too much.

“It looks a nice race tomorrow but maybe not as competitive as it was last year. She had Log Out Island, who is going for the 2,000 Guineas, a short-head in front of her at Deauville last year and we were putting up a pound overweight.

“That was over five furlongs and I think she would have won over further so if we can get her back to that level she should be right up there tomorrow.

“It is just a question of getting her right in the day and whether she is really an All-Weather horse or more of a turf horse. She is a good filly and I mapped out to run on Good Friday after her win last time. I think she is crying out for a mile.”

Royal Marskell is a six-time winner on the All-Weather. The seven-year-old has won twice in handicaps over 11 and 12 furlongs at Southwell and Lingfield Park respectively since first racing for Kelleway in November.

Kelleway concluded: “For me, the 32Red All-Weather Marathon is the hottest race of the day. Compared to the last two years, it has really upped the tempo and looks a strong race.

“The good thing about Royal Marskell is that he has improved. I think the step up distance will suit him well and, after Good Friday, we will be looking at hopefully going for the Chester Cup with him.

“For an older horse, I don’t think I have had one improve so much since he joined me.”

Lingfield Park hosts seven great races on Good Friday for the climax of the All-Weather Championships, with prize money of £1.1 million on offer.

Along with the bet365 Good Friday racecard at Wolverhampton Racecourse, which is worth £156,000, March 25 looks set to be the best day of All-Weather Racing ever hosted in Great Britain.