Friday Racing Tips: Two to play on the All-Weather Finals day at Lingfield

Lingfield racecourse
All eyes on the All-Weather Finals at Lingfield

It's Lingfield's big day with almost all the action screened live on ITV4 and Tony Calvin is on hand to run through the card...

"Abe Lincoln is also a course and distance winner with few miles on the clock, and hopefully Paul Hanagan can get him organised for a telling charge up the straight."

There has been a lot of talk about ITV's Cheltenham viewing figures this week - well, a bit anyway - but the channel (in this case ITV4) are certainly doing punters proud by broadcasting nine races from Good Friday's all-weather action.

Before we crack on with the racing, viewing figures are surely an increasing irrelevance these days, aren't they?

A lot of people watch online streaming and the like now, and the quality of the output is surely more important than a few thousand less or more tuning in.

Not that I have watched ITV enough to have an opinion on their offerings - if I am not on course, I will be watching Racing UK, like a fair percentage of those in the "industry", I imagine - so I will shut up and kick off at Lingfield, where I will be attending and partaking of a glass or two once my work is done.

Watersmeet appeals in the Marathon

ITV are broadcasting all bar the opener at Lingfield, but that apprentice race at 13:30 is definitely worth a mention.

Mind you, it is fearsomely competitive and the more I look at the race, the more inclined I am to leave the ATR offering well alone, and move swiftly along to my usual terrestrial fare.

First up is the 2m Marathon at 14:00 and the one that I like most is Watersmeet.

However, this is a very closely-knit race on official figures - five horses are rated between 3lb of each other at the top end - he is towards the top of the market, and he could well be taken on for the lead by the likes of Soldier In Action and Funny Kid.

But he doesn't need to lead, there is little doubt that he was ultra-impressive when easing home at Kempton last time, and he does have a pretty good record around here. Indeed, one of his better efforts came when chasing home Winning Story in this race last year.

He would be my selection if forced to have a bet, but I can't see that much juice in his price at 7/2. Red Verdon is the obvious danger.

The 7f Fillies' And Mares at 14:30 is even trappier, and I can't get excited by any at the odds.

Zest has just about the best profile by my reckoning. She is two from three at the track, her only defeat being a length defeat by the 107-rated Muffri Ha here last November, but she has been doing all her recent running over 1m and further and she will need a lot of luck if coming from off the pace in this 13-runner heat.

At odds of around 5/1, I can let her win unbacked in a race as tight as this, albeit one that hasn't attracted the class and depth of previous years, with the top-rated horse a mere 97 (Mia Tesoro) in this 150k contest.

Varian pair of interest in the 15:05

These conditions races don't get any easier with the 6f sprint at 15:05 though I do think Kachy is a worthy favourite at around the 5/2 mark. In fact, I couldn't put you off him at all, but that is not how we like to roll in this column.

Roger Varian has a couple of interesting outsiders in Atletico and Double Up, though. The former is the lowest-rated in the race but you get the strong impression that he is capable of stepping forward if things fall right for him.

His stablemate Double Up is more interesting at 21.020/1 or bigger, and is worth a small bet.

He posted two excellent efforts over this trip at Kempton (where he beat dual subsequent scorer Intisaab who is re-opposing here) and Wolverhampton over the winter, and he made his return to this track after a four-year absence (he finished first and second on his two previous visits in 2014) here last month.

He did so in somewhat bizarre circumstances too, as his usual tongue-tie somehow got loose in the stalls and he ran without it - apparently if he comes out in the stalls you are not allowed to put it back on - so being beaten just under three lengths by Kachy and Kimberella was probably not a bad effort.

In a race like this, you are looking for an edge, and his first-time blinkers could just provide it.

Varian is 12 from 75 with this option since 2011, an above-average stat for headgear use though below the trainer's normal strike rate granted, and hopefully Double Up will be finishing to good effect here. He did make all at Kempton but I am not expecting him to be forcing the pace from stall eight, unless he gets a flier.

There is a slight suspicion that a strongly-run 5f could suit him better but I willing to take a chance at the odds.

Second Thought a deserved favourite

Corinthia Knight is the form stand-out going into the 15:40, and the betting rightly reflects that. But even the crudest look at the form figures of the opposition - yes, I know, but indulge me - tells you that he meets a whole host of up-and-coming three-year-olds.

Never Back Down interested me a bit at around 13/2 but this is not a race I could attack, with cash, with any confidence.

I don't think anyone could have much issue with Second Thought being favourite for the 1m race at 16:10, but whether he should be as short as 11/8 is another matter.

Or so I thought.

Yes, he is the highest-rated horse in the race. Yes, he is two from two at the course. Yes, he ran a career-best at Wolverhampton last time. Yes, he will be suited by the return to a mile. And, yes, he will probably hug the rail from stall one and save all the ground going.

Yes, I was looking for a "but", and failed miserably - bar trouble in-running if he does take the inside route - though, again, there is plenty of depth to the race.

The ultra-progressive Goring is probably the each-way play at around 6/1 and bigger after rattling up a four-timer here, but I am not getting involved with such a strong favourite in the race. Second Thought will prove very hard to beat, methinks.

Abe can lead them home in the 16:40

However, I will have a bet in the last in the shape of Abe Lincoln at 14/1 each-way with the Betfair Sportsbook, or similar prices win and place in the exchange, in the 16:40.

An outside draw in 10 is not a massive hardship given his hold-up run-style but there is little doubt that he needs to improve a fair bit to win this after a disappointing effort at Wolverhampton last time.

But he ran about a bit there and didn't appear to help his jockey, so blinkers replacing the cheek pieces could be a smart move. It has proved to be for his trainer in the past, and a rarely-used option too, as he is six from 15 with this new headgear since 2007. That's a pretty impressive stat.

Abe Lincoln is also a course and distance winner with few miles on the clock, and hopefully Paul Hanagan can get him organised for a telling charge up the straight.

Newcastle thoughts to finish...

There are also three races at Newcastle, and the class offering is the 3yo 1m Listed race at 15:55.

Only 6lb cover the top six on official figures, but there seems to be a lot of confidence behind Kentucky Derby hopeful Gronkowski in the market and at least his fitness is assured. Not a race for me though.

Sir Reginald Brown interested me most in the 14:45 as I like the move of him dropping back to 7f on a falling mark, but I would be forcing a bit to make it a bet.

The 1m4f handicap at 15:20 may be best left to recent course and distance winner Lexington Law but there are too many potential dangers for me to get involved at the price.

Off those Eye Of The Storm, making his debut for Keith Dalgleish off a 13lb lower mark than when starting off last year, is undoubtedly the most interesting at a massive price.

However, just the two bets for me on a tricky Good Friday.

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