The Beast from the East has had its say so there are no turf meetings in Britain. However, the much-derided All-Weather racing has come to the rescue and two meetings are scheduled on artificial surfaces. There is actually some decent racing on the sand at Lingfield and Newcastle.
This is an ever-developing situation as a fall of snow can make tracks untraceable. The stands and roads have to be safe but let’s assume the planned meetings are on. The richest race of the day is the Class 1 Spring Cup Stakes at Lingfield (3.30pm) in which Headway has the highest Racing Post Rating.
The race offers guaranteed prize money of £45,000 which outside All-Weather Finals Day and the Winter Derby makes it one of the most lucrative Flat races of the winter. It’s a seven furlongs contest for three-year-olds that has attracted a small but select field of six runners.
The money up for grabs is not to be sniffed at but the race will be like chalk and cheese compared to the sport at the Cheltenham Festival. The snow will soften the ground and the softer it gets Native River will have a better chance of winning the Gold Cup. However, the priority is finding the winner of the Lingfield highlight.
Headway finished just three and a half lengths behind the winner in the Gimcrack Stakes at York. The race is one of the major contests for juveniles so the form is solid. The horse has not run for six months and this is the first start on Polytrack but proven form should tell in the final reckoning.
Bengali Boys is also running for the first time in six months and has some form from a race for two-year-olds at York. However, that was in a Listed race and Headway has been competitive at Group 2 level on the course. Bengali Boys is now up in trip but even over a more suitable distance Headway will be a tough nut to crack.
Lake Volta is now running over a trip that should suit but the horse’s form is more solid than anything special. On official ratings, Lake Volta is nine pounds behind Headway and at this age, that’s too much to make up even on a suitable surface.
Albishr has done nothing wrong but in the context of winning this race, the horse’s form is not good enough. One positive is that Albishir has some experience of All-Weather surfaces but that won’t compensate for not having the form to win this race. The field is completed by Rufus King who will battle but is unlike to figure.
It might seem like Headway is the selection due to a process of elimination. However, the horse has the best form and can confirm that edge inability by winning the Spring Cup which is a strange name for a race that could be run in extreme winter conditions.