Al Zaraqaan strikes Newcastle gold for Watson and Hambleton Racing

Winter Derby an option before Easter Classic on Good Friday.

AL ZARAQAAN winning the Follow At The Races On Twitter Novice Stakes (Div 2) in Doncaster, England.
AL ZARAQAAN winning the Follow At The Races On Twitter Novice Stakes (Div 2) in Doncaster, England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Al Zaraqaan  booked his ticket for All-Weather Championships Finals Day when maintaining his flawless all-weather record with a convincing win at Newcastle.

The five-year-old was purchased from the Shadwell dispersal for 45,000 guineas at Tattersalls' Autumn Sale in October and was transferred from William Haggas' yard to new trainer Archie Watson.

Three prior wins on a synthetic surface saw the gelding start as the 4-6 favourite for the Newcastle race, a fast-track qualifier for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic at the same course on Good Friday.

Under Danny Tudhope Al Zaraqaan duly obliged, making all of the running and producing a comfortable three-and-three-quarter-length success on his first run for new connections.

"We were delighted with him, it was the perfect start really," said Simon Turner, director of racing for owners Hambleton Racing.

"We bought him for 45,000 Guineas at Tattersalls and that was his first start for us so we're really pleased with him, I thought he did it really well."

The middle-distance division on Good Friday is now pencilled in for the horse, with an outing to Lingfield in late February for the Winter Derby also under consideration.

"He'll definitely go to Finals Day and we'd probably look to take him to Lingfield in between that for the Winter Derby," said Turner.

"There are other nice races about we could look into as well, he's an exciting horse and we're thrilled with the start he's made."

The 10-furlong Easter Classic is the most valuable contest on the all-weather in Britain, with the £100,000 first-place prize more than double what Al Zaraqaan cost.

Turner is also hopeful Hambleton Racing will be doubly represented at the meeting as Tempus is a likely entrant in the £150,000 MansionBet All-Weather Mile after he was trained by Watson to win the fast-track qualifier over the same trip at Newcastle on January 2.

He added: "It will be interesting to see what the opposition is like, but Al Zaraqaan is four from four on the all-weather now.

"There's every indication he might still be able to replicate his past form and if he can then he'd probably be one of the leading contenders for that race.

"It's great prize-money to run for and luckily for us we'll hopefully have Tempus there as well, he won the previous fast-track qualifier at Newcastle and is another of our acquisitions from Tattersalls.

"We'll hopefully have two runners there and in the meantime they'll be running in some more nice races which is just great for the owners."

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