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Monday, 21 January, 2019

All you need to know about Lingfield's day in the sun

Lingfield: Good Friday meeting has become part of the calendar
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All-Weather Championships, what's that all about then?

Friday's fixture represents the end of the all-weather season, with finals day first staged in 2014 to provide a fitting finale for the winter Flat racing.

All-weather racing used to be viewed as the Flat turf's poor relation and the championships were designed to make it a more attractive option to trainers and owners.

This year's meeting promises to be the best yet and the championships have provided not only a focal point but also a winter-long narrative that helps give the season more structure.

So how did these horses end up in the finals?

To be part of finals day, a horse needed to either win a fast-track qualifier, of which there were four for each of the six categories, or run three times on the all-weather during the season.

Such a system prevents trainers from parachuting in a horse that has had the whole winter off. There has been greater expansion this season, with horses able to qualify by running on the all-weather in Ireland and France, and it has led to representatives from both countries.

What are the six finals categories?

There is the sprint over 6f, and a three-year-old equivalent. Stayers have the marathon over 2m, and there is also the mile. The fillies and mares final is over 7f and the 1m2f Easter Classic is the highlight.

The races are not just for the horses, as a valuable apprentice handicap opens the card, giving younger riders the chance to showcase their skills on a bigger stage.

Why is there so much money on offer?

Finals day is worth £1 million over the seven races as part of trying to attract a better calibre of all-weather runner. There have been plenty of other valuable races during the course of the all-weather season, but finals day offers big prize-money and big crowds, with over 10,000 in attendance last year.

Sounds good, who's the star attraction?

Each race is competitive but looking at the fields Ennaadd [3.40] is probably the horse with the most untapped potential. He has won his last four and was an easy winner of a Listed race at Kempton when last seen.

Muffri'Ha [Fillies and Mares; 2.40] was third in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta in Meydan last month, while Winter Derby winner Convey bids to follow up in the Easter Classic [4.40].

This year's meeting promises to be the best yet
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