Home Sports Finals Day tips: Simon Mapletoft's seven selections for big day at Newcastle

Finals Day tips: Simon Mapletoft's seven selections for big day at Newcastle

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Finals Day tips: Simon Mapletoft's seven selections for big day at Newcastle

Simon Mapletoft analyses every race on Finals Day on Good Friday, live on Sky Sports Racing, where the best performers of the winter will compete for £1 million.

1.18 Listed BetMGM Burradon Stakes (1m)

Kevin Ryan’s ROOM SERVICE can confirm himself a genuine Qipco 2000 Guineas contender by taking this step up in distance in his stride on his seasonal re-appearance. He confirmed himself a colt of potential when landing the valuable sales race over 6.5f at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival in September, earning an official rating of 102.

Ryan’s record with promising three-year-olds first time out at Newcastle this year bodes well for his son of Kodi Bear.

The Gosden’s Orne, who got going all too late when a close third in the Listed Spring Cup at Lingfield last time, is an obvious threat. He will appreciate returning to 1m but a 5lb penalty for that previous Group 3 success leaves him a shade vulnerable.

1.53 BetUK All-Weather Championships Marathon Handicap (2m1/2f)

Alan King has made a habit of winning big staying prizes on this Tapeta track in recent years. This year the trainer is back with another potential star in SPARTAN ARMY. He has been a revelation since switching to synthetics this year. The five-year-old is unbeaten in three starts, holding several of these rivals in the valuable Marathon Trial at Lingfield on 1st March.

Ralph Beckett’s multiple Group winner Max Vega was too good for Vaguely Royal over 1m4f at Wolverhampton last month but giving weight away all round over a trip that may just stretch him raises doubts.

At a double-figure price, Hughie Morrison’s Kyle Of Lochalsh warrants respect. He showed enough improvement at Chelmsford City before Christmas to justify a go in this higher grade and will have no problem seeing out the longer trip.

Room Service (second left) winning at Doncaster Racecourse
Image:
Room Service (second left) winning at Doncaster Racecourse

2.25 BetMGM All-Weather 3 Year Old Championships Handicap (6f)

SOMMELIER was denied in the Trial here on New Year’s Day and he should be in the thick of the action again. He probably hit the front too soon but is 4lb better off for just half a length so I’m expecting this classy, well-regarded son of Due Diligence to come out on top with the excellent Rossa Ryan trusted to get the fractions right.

Fire Demon put a poor display at Lingfield behind him when powering home in a Kempton Park last month. He looked a different proposition faced with a more galloping test and looks well handicapped despite taking a 5lb rise into this higher grade.

Trained by Andrew Balding he receives 11lb from Sommelier and looks handily drawn in stall 10 but Botti’s three-year-old sets the standard and can take his measure.

3.00 BetMGM Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships Handicap (7f)

Shades Of Summer will scoop a £75,000 bonus for winning both Trials if she can take this for regular partner Laura Pearson. This scopey mare proved just too strong for NINE TENTHS over course and distance on New Year’s Day but it’s a different picture three months later.

William Haggas’s filly is 8lb better off but has also improved, beating all but star miler Dear My Friend in the Listed Tandridge Stakes at Lingfield before going one better in that grade in this month’s Lady Wulfruna Stakes back over 7f at Wolverhampton.

Iain Jardine’s progressive filly Sibyl Charm took her form to a new level in a course and distance handicap earlier this month. This demands more but this four-year-old is thriving, runs the track effectively and could make an impact off her relative featherweight.

3.35 BetUK All-Weather Sprint Handicap (6f)

There’s no doubt Godolphin’s Cover Up is a sprinter going places but he arrives with a point to prove, having won both starts at this track over the minimum distance. John and Thady Gosden’s four-year-old has a 6f win on his CV, but that was around a much sharper track.

Taking on warmer opposition than he’s faced so far, this stiff test may just leave him at the mercy of faster finishers so I’m opting for a better value alternative in FIVETHOUSANDTOONE. Andrew Balding’s contender looked better than ever in a visor this year, powering home off a strong pace to win a Class 2 handicap at Kempton last month.

Of those at bigger prices, Misty Grey has got his mojo back since joining David O’Meara and will appreciate this test. With newly crowned champion jockey Rossa Ryan on board, he can build on his second in the Listed Lady Wulfruna Stakes here.

Fivethousandtoone (right) is Simon Mapletoft's 9/1 pick for Finals Day
Image:
Fivethousandtoone (right) is Simon Mapletoft’s 9/1 pick for Finals Day

4.10 BetUK All-Weather Easter Classic Middle Distance Handicap (1m2f)

In the feature ELEGANT MAN (Nb) puts his burgeoning reputation on the line in this £200,000 feature. David Egan rides a four-year-old who possesses all the hallmarks of a ‘Group horse in a handicap’.

Elegant Man tuned up with a resounding victory in a Dundalk stakes race over a similar distance at the end of January on only his third career start but posted arguably his best effort in defeat in the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton in December, bustling up Breeders’ Cup Turf hero and recent Doha Group winner Rebel’s Romance over 1m4f.

Simon Pearce’s Storm Catcher has twice been beaten by Mick Appleby’s Middle-Distance star Penzance this winter but is weighted to turn the tables at value odds. He failed by only a short-head on Trials Day here in January but is 6lb better off now.

Penzance showed his versatility at Lingfield earlier this month, winning in spite of the sharper test, but takes on better opposition off an 8lb higher mark.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s filly Oh So Grand has made rapid progress this winter, landing the valuable Winter Oaks Fillies’ Handicap at Lingfield back in January. Though she’s got winning form over course and distance, she may just succumb to stronger finishers in a deeper race off her elevated rating.

French raider Hooking has won back-to-back Listed races on the Polytrack at Cagnes-Sur-Mer and looks as good as ever. His latest success over 1m came at the expense of Fast Raaj, who runs in the Mile Final, so a big performance here would give that gelding’s prospects a timely boost.

4.40 BetMGM All-Weather Championships Mile Handicap (1m)

The revitalised DEAR MY FRIEND (Nap) has taken the Mile division by storm this winter and will be hard to beat if he continues in the same vein.

His unbeaten run of four on the All-Weather began in the Listed Burradon Stakes a year ago and continued on Trials Day in January when the one-time Derby hope came back to form in emphatic style following wind surgery and a gelding operation. He’s dominated in his last two runs and has set himself up nicely for this.

However, it remains to be seen if Kingdom Come can produce a stronger finishing effort on this stiff track than Dear My Friend, a comment that also applies to French contender Fast Raaj. He had the speed to beat subsequent Finals Day Sprint winner Bouttemont at Chantilly back in 2021 and has since developed into a Group 3 winning miler, but this is the most demanding stamina test he’s faced so far.

SIMON’S FINALS DAY SELECTIONS:

1.18 ROOM SERVICE

1.53 SPARTAN ARMY

2.25 SOMMELIER

3.00 NINE TENTHS

3.35 FIVETHOUSANDTOONE

4.10 ELEGANT MAN (NB)

4.40 DEAR MY FRIEND (NAP)

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