Chelmsford City Racecourse staged two Fast-Track Qualifiers on Thursday 7th March and both winners are now on course for the £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, 19th April after gaining free and guaranteed places in their respective targets.
French raider Funny Kid plundered the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship on Good Friday in 2018 and France looks to have another leading contender for the same race this year following 2/1 favourite Amade’s victory (pictured top) in the Bet totequadpot At totesport.com Conditions Race (6.25pm) over two miles on Polytrack.
Trained by Alessandro & Giuseppe Botti, five-year-old Amade is now unbeaten in two starts in the UK, having also impressed when landing a two-mile Polytrack handicap at Kempton Park on 5th January.
Andrea Atzeni, who had not ridden Amade prior to tonight, anchored the son of Casamento in last of the six runners in the early stages as Grey Britain (John Ryan, 7/2) dictated steady fractions on the lead under Adam Kirby before moving up to fifth.
Grey Britain and Elegiac (Mark Johnston/Franny Norton, 5/2) increased the tempo rounding the home turn and Elegiac edged to the front soon after straightening up. Amade was switched out wide entering the straight and made ground down the outside.
He hit the front just inside the final furlong and quickly shot clear to score well by three and a half lengths in 3m 27.21s. Elegiac finished second, with Higher Power (James Fanshawe/George Wood) two and a quarter lengths further back in third.
Andrea Atzeni, back in Britain after riding in California, said: “I think Good Friday is the plan, as tonight was Amade’s third qualifying run anyway.
“This is the first time I have ridden the horse. He won very well at Kempton on his last start, having won nicely in France the time before. Unfortunately, Rab [Havlin] is injured so I was lucky enough to pick up the ride on him.
“They did not go quick tonight and it turned into a bit of a sprint. That is why Amade came off the bridle early enough, but he stays very well.
“I have known Alessandro for a long time and he is a really good friend of mine. He is a very good trainer in France and it is great to ride a winner for him.”
Of the runner-up Elegiac, who was having his first start since November, Franny Norton said: “Elegiac ran a decent race tonight off a lay-off. In fairness, he would not know how to run a bad race.
“The winner, for a two-mile horse, really picked up in the straight whereas my lad just gallops away. I would say the winner is a fair horse and perhaps we underestimated him a bit.”
Later on the card, 4/7 favourite Clon Coulis (David Barron/Jamie Spencer, pictured above) guaranteed her place in the £150,000 Ladbrokes Fillies & Mares’ Championship on Good Friday with victory in the mile Bet totetrifecta At totesport.com Fillies’ Conditions Race (6.55pm, five runners).
The five-year-old Vale Of York mare asserted inside the final furlong after a sustained duel with market rival Pattie (Mick Channon/Callum Shepherd, 11/4) to score in 1m 39.86s. The winning margin was a length and three quarters, with front-runner Emily Goldfinch (Phil McEntee/Rossa Ryan, 20/1) two and a half lengths further back in
Clon Coulis, the class act in the race after landing two Listed races on turf in 2018, was having her first start since finishing fifth in the G3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown Park in September.
Winning rider Jamie Spencer said: “Clon Coulis did it well. On paper, it looked like it could be a messy race, but fortunately there was pace and she was able to pick up the main danger in the straight.
“She was meant to run here a couple of weeks ago, but it was called off due to the equine flu. It was her first race since September and she is entitled to come on for it.
“I am sure Finals Day will come into the reckoning now and you would think her on her rating  that she will be a major player.”