Kevin Ryan has a leading chance at Newcastle’s All-Weather Championships Finals Day as Dark Moon Rising bids to land Listed honours in the Coral Burradon Stakes.
The colt was last seen in the Cardinal Stakes at Chelmsford, a competitive race in which he defeated Group performer Harrow by a length and a quarter.
A field of six are due to line up for the one-mile contest on Good Friday and Ryan is hopeful his Pete and Angie Bailey-owned runner will demonstrate some improvement on his last outing.
“He’s in great form and put up a great performance at Chelmsford,” he said.
“We’d left plenty in him and he’s going to improve for the run, so you can probably mark up his performance considering that.
“It’s going to be a tough race, but it’s a great prize and if we’re going to take the next step forward, you have to be competitive in it.”
William Haggas’ classy My Oberon heads the market for the All-Weather Mile Championships Conditions Stakes on the same card.
The gelding booked his ticket for the race when winning a fast-track qualifier at Southwell in February and then set sail for the Middle East to contest the Dubai Turf, a race in which he was beaten four and a half lengths by dead-heaters Panthalassa and Lord North.
That performance was on March 26, however, and Haggas is mindful that little time has passed between then and his upcoming outing.
“He was running a really lovely race (in Dubai), I was very pleased with him and if he runs like that again, he will win,” the trainer told Sky Sports Racing.
“Consistency is not his A-game, but he’s got a good draw which I am pleased about. I was concerned that I didn’t want it too low with him, but he’s drawn nine which is perfect.
“He ran in Dubai and had a really hard race 20 days ago, I’ve done nothing with him since so I don’t know whether that will affect him or not – we’ll see.”
Archie Watson has two chances in the shape of Imperial Sands and Tempus, both of whom run in the Hambleton Racing colours.
Imperial Sands has proven himself to be a consistent performer on synthetic surfaces when either winning or placing in each of his past four runs at Lingfield, with connections inclined to think he will be even more effective on the track at Newcastle.
“He’s put together some consistent form at Lingfield but we have a suspicion that Newcastle might be more suitable for him. He’s a big, strapping horse, so it will be really interesting to see how he gets on on Friday,” said Simon Turner, racing manager for Hambleton Racing.
Tempus was last seen on the turf at Doncaster, finishing second to Chindit in the Listed Doncaster Mile on the opening day of the Flat season, prior to which he was the winner of a Newcastle fast-track qualifier on his debut for Watson in January.
“We’ve been delighted with him as he was a relatively cheap purchase at just 25,000 guineas and he’s quickly turned into a very good, solid horse,” Turner said.
“He was impressive at Newcastle in the fast-track qualifier last time out and I don’t think there’s any disgrace in being beaten by Chindit, who is a very good horse.
“Both horses are in great form, they really pleased Archie with their final pieces of work late last week and we’re really excited to run them both.
“Imperial Sands will be really well suited, we think, to this stiff mile and Tempus obviously ran a cracking race last time at Doncaster, so they are both entitled to take their chance and we hope they can run well and get amongst the prize money.”
There is an Irish raider among the field of 11 as David Marnane is represented by Freescape, an experienced seven-year-old who returns from a spell in Meydan to run at Newcastle for the second time in his career.
“Freescape came back from Dubai really well and the plan all winter has been to take him to Newcastle,” the trainer said.
“We were pleased with his first run in Dubai behind Lord Glitters and then it did not pan out for him in the Group One – he hit the gates almost too well and ended up getting no cover, but it was not a bad run by any means.
“He has run well at Newcastle before in the Burradon Stakes behind Gronkowski, although even that day we felt he didn’t help himself by being too keen.
“If they go a good gallop on Friday, he should give a good account of himself.”
Joseph O’Brien is another trainer bringing a horse over from Ireland as he runs San Andreas in the same race, a six-year-old gelding who won last time out at Dundalk and was third in a Group Two earlier in the year when lining up for the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup at Doha in February.
“We have been very happy with San Andreas through the winter and he comes into this on the back of a good win at Dundalk,” O’Brien said.
“He looks as though he should be competitive on ratings and we are hoping that he can run into a place.”
O’Brien also has a chance in the Betway All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes with Grandmaster Flash, who is a regular on Dundalk’s all-weather track and has Newcastle experience after finishing eighth in the 2021 running of the Northumberland Plate.
“Grandmaster Flash is in good shape but has a little bit to find with some of the principals,” said O’Brien.
“He enjoys the all-weather and there are not many opportunities for him over here, so hopefully he can run well.”
Marco Botti’s Rising Star was a Newcastle winner last time out and looks to double up in the Coral All-Weather Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships Conditions Stakes.
That victory was over a mile and on Good Friday she will compete over seven furlongs, but Botti does not expect the shorter trip to pose an issue.
“She won nicely at Newcastle last month and, although it was a small field, it was still nice to see her back in that sort of form,” he said.
“The drop back to seven furlongs should not inconvenience her and I can see her running a nice race.”
Botti also has a runner in the Coral 3 Year Old All Weather Championships Conditions Stakes as Golden Warrior looks to maintain a consistent record on synthetic surfaces.
“Golden Warrior is a nice sprinter in the making and ran well to be third in what looked a decent race at Lingfield last time,” he said.
“The track was too sharp for him and moving to a stiffer six at Newcastle will be a help. He has a few pounds to find but I think there is more to come from him.”
Karl Burke is well-represented in the same race as both El Caballo and Kaboo hold entries.
El Caballo has won his last four races and is unbeaten on the all-weather, with Kaboo also impressive away from the turf having won three successive starts before finishing fourth at Lingfield last time.
“El Caballo is in great order. He has been working really well and, to be honest, I am absolutely delighted with him,” said Burke.
“I think he is a Group horse in the making and I am hoping that he can go and show that on Friday.
“Kaboo did not handle the track at Lingfield, Newcastle will suit him a lot better, as he showed earlier in the season, but I would not think he has the class to handle the other fella.”