All-Weather champion Alben Star is set to return in the £45,000 Listed Unibet Cleves Stakes (1.45pm) at Lingfield Park tomorrow, Saturday.The six-furlong contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the Unibet All-Weather Sprint Championships over the course and distance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 3.
Alben Star defied a starting price of 25/1 to land the £150,000 prize on Good Friday last year and proved it was no fluke with a series of good efforts on turf subsequently. The Richard Fahey-trained seven-year-old was fourth in the Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot and third in the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood.
He has not run since coming 13th behind Gordon Lord Byron in the Group Two QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot in October. Fahey said: “All being well, Alben Star will go to Lingfield on Saturday.He has had a holiday since Ascot, which he was entitled to because he was on the go for over a year, and seems in good shape.
“He needs to run three times to qualify for Finals Day and there are only three races left he can run in, so he has to run at the weekend.”
There are 11 other entries for the Unibet Cleves Stakes, notably Instransigent(Andrew Balding), who took the Listed Unibet Golden Rose Stakes over the course and distance in November, the returning Rivellino (Karl Burke) and impressive Wolverhampton winner Foxtrot Romeo (Marco Botti).
A seven-race programme is topped by the £45,000 Listed Winter Derby Trial (3.25pm) over 10 furlongs. Among the 13 entries are last year’s winner Grandeur (Jeremy Noseda), who also took the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic over the course and distance on Good Friday, and 2011 Group One Dewhurst Stakes victor Parish Hall (Jim Bolger IRE).
Other notables include Cloudscape (John Gosden), who was a promising three-year-old on turf last season, and Group Three winner Graphic (William Haggas). Prolific handicappers Don’t Be (Sir Mark Prescott), Shyron(George Margarson) and Rich Again (James Bethell) could all clash in the other £45,000 contest on the card, the Ladbrokes Handicap (2.15pm, 22 entries) over seven furlongs.
Racing gets underway at 1.15pm and concludes at 4.35pm