By Simon Jackson.
Lancelot Du Lac secured a start in the sprint race at the 2016 All-Weather Championships Finals at Lingfield Park on Good Friday when winning in course record time at Chelmsford.
The six-year-old travelled strongly throughout the five furlong contest for Robert Winston before taking the lead a furlong out to score by one and a half lengths in 57.39 seconds.
Lancelot Du Lac’s victory in the £30,000 Fast-Track Qualifier at Chelmsford on Saturday ensures a start in the £150,000 Unibet All-Weather Sprint Championships Final, which is decided over six furlongs at Lingfield Park on March 25.
The Dean Ivory-trained gelding was eighth in the sprint final in 2014 after he was hampered during the race and connections are hoping for better luck this time.
“I am over the moon with how Lancelot Du Lac won,” Ivory said. “We could have made a few little excuses beforehand, such as his ability to handle the track and his wide draw, but the way he jumped out of the gates showed that he is a true professional.
“We ran him in the big Good Friday race a couple of years ago but he bumped the rail that day and had to be snatched up a bit. I think now that we have qualified for the race again, we have to look seriously at running him again.
“I think he is going to be a better horse this year. He was a little unlucky when he went to Dubai at the start of last season and horses seem to need a few months to get over the trip when they come back.
“He has bounced back and has the speed for five furlongs. He is a very versatile horse – he can run over five or six furlongs – and Robert Winston gets on so well with him.
“All credit to Robert, he knows Lancelot Du Lac and was never worried about the five furlongs today, even though I had a slight doubt myself. The horse went and did it in style for us.”
The All-Weather Sprint is one of seven races on Finals Day at Lingfield which offers total prize money of £1.1 million and Winston believes his mount deserves a big-race victory.
“Lancelot Du Lac has got a lot of natural pace and has quickened with age – he has really matured into himself,” the jockey said. “He is hitting the gates like never before and hopefully he is going to land a big race over five furlongs this year.
“He ran over six furlongs for most of last season apart from the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, when he ran a good race, and he shown today what a good five-furlong specialist he could be.
“He will be there to be shot at on Good Friday. He is very, very quick now – even in the big six-furlong sprints last year, he was leading them down until the last furlong and was very keen in his races.”
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