Master The World has the ratings and form to win the Middle Distance Championship which is the richest race on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield. The fixture is the culmination of a season of qualifiers and there is almost a million pounds of prize money up for grabs on the most lucrative All-Weather racing day in Britain. Second Thought is the standout bet of the day in the Mile final. Red Verdon has the class to win the long distance race.
In 1989 Lingfield Park staged the first All-Weather meeting in Britain and on Good Friday the track holds the sixth All-Weather finals which have now become established on one of the traditional blank days in the racing calendar. Lingfield is also the venue for the Winter Derby and the programme is now more than betting office fodder when there is no turf racing. Racing is a conservative sport but the five artificial surface courses serve a valuable purpose.
There is now some criticism that the balance between Flat turf racing and the All-Weather is wrong but races at the five tracks attract plenty of runners and there are nearly always decent fields. The conversion of Newcastle to an AW track has met the demand for this type of racing in the north. At times the racing is ordinary but it provides employment and opportunities at the bottom end of the sport. The overall standard of the racing and the quality of the horses has consistently improved since 1989. Some of the leading stables now have a dedicated team of AW horses.
Racing on Good Friday was also the subject of much debate. For religious reasons there was no racing before 2013 and many stables staged open days. However, the day is a bank holiday when many potential new racegoers are not at work. There has always been a healthy crowd at Lingfield for finals day and there is no going back now because the concept works and Good Friday racing is here to stay. There is a turf meeting at Bath and they also race on the All-Weather at Newcastle. Six of the seven finals at Lingfield will be shown live on ITV4.
The middle distance race is the last contest on the card and the prize fund is £200,000 which has attracted a high-quality field. There have been All-Weather fast track qualifiers and 10 runners go to post. Master The World has the joint highest Racing Post Rating with Mr Owen. The key race is the Winter Derby at the track in February. Mr Own beat Master The World by a head of level weights and the same conditions apply in the AW final. However, Master The World was bumped near the finish and can reverse the form.
Arcanda has the best RPR rating in the mile final but Second Thought is the most likely winner of the race. The horse has a record of six wins from six starts on All-Weather surfaces. Second Thought won a fast-track qualifier at Wolverhampton earlier this month. The William Haggas runner beat the decent Summer Icon by over two lengths giving eight pounds to that horse. That is the most outstanding piece of form displayed by any runner and Second Thought can win for favourite backers.
Red Verdon was a potential Derby runner as a three-year-old. The horse showed decent form but didn’t reach the standard required to run in a Classic. Expectations were downgraded but Red Verdon has won some decent prizes. On ratings the horse has ground to make up on Soldier In Action but on historical form is the most likely winner of the long distance final run over just under two miles.