Turf Talk: New sprint category for all-weather racing

All-weather ambassador George Baker aboard Shalianzi.
All-weather ambassador George Baker aboard Shalianzi.
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A new Three-Year-Old Sprint category has been added to the second all-weather championships season, which starts at Lingfield on October 30.

Three-Year-Old Sprint is the seventh category, joining the existing divisions of Three-Year-Old, Sprint, Mile, Marathon, Fillies & Mares, and Middle Distance.

Arena Racing Company’s director of racing Jim Allen said: “The creation of the new Three-Year-Old Sprint category arose out of consultation with horsemen and the British Horseracing Authority.

“We hope its inclusion will further support the sprint programme in Great Britain and give horses more opportunities to race throughout the winter months.”

A new betting partner, Unibet, will back the Three-Year-Old Sprint Championship plus the Sprint Championship. The three other betting partners, Coral, Ladbrokes and 32Red, were involved in the first All-Weather Championships season and continue their association this time.

Britain’s five all-weather courses – Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton, which are owned by ARC, plus Chelmsford City and Kempton – are all involved in the championships. George Baker, one of the leading jockeys during the first all-weather championships with 57 winners, is the new all-weather ambassador.

“The all-weather has allowed me to progress as a jockey and I will always be grateful for the opportunities it gave me to gain valuable experience,” he said.

Anibale Fly, ridden by Barry Geraghty (centre) on the way to winning the Coral Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown back in April 2016. PIC: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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