Winter Derby option for Al Zaraqaan after Newcastle win

Al Zaraqaan extended his unbeaten record on the All-Weather to four with an authoritative display in the 10-furlong Betway Conditions Stakes at Newcastle on Thursday, a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic.

Previously trained by William Haggas, the former Shadwell runner was making his first appearance for Archie Watson since being sold at the sales in October.

Danny Tudhope kept things simple from the stalls and sent Al Zaraqaan straight into the lead, with Halimi and Sir Chauvelin following in Indian file. 

The 4/6 favourite upped the ante turning into the straight and was never seriously threatened, pulling away from Halimi inside the final furlong to win by almost four lengths.

This was a second Fast-Track Qualifier win at Newcastle this year for Watson and Al Zaraqaan’s owners Hambleton Racing, who were also successful with Tempus in a mile qualifier on January 2.

Watson said: “That was a good performance from Al Zaraqaan, making his own running into a strong headwind in the straight and winning well. Danny was delighted with him. 

“We will see how he comes out of the race but the Winter Derby Trial and Winter Derby itself would be nice options, I’m sure.”

Tudhope said: “Al Zaraqaan has good form on the All-Weather and has shown that again today.

“I spoke to Hollie [Doyle] and Archie beforehand and they both said, ‘whatever you do, don’t turn it into a sprint’. He stays well and has form over further than this. 

“We made it a good test and there is a strong headwind in the straight, which makes it hard work, but he did it nicely. 

“He is a big strapping horse and hopefully there is a bit more to come. Archie knows what he is doing and I’m sure he has a plan.”













Al Zaraqaan wins the Betway Conditions Stakes (credit: Grossick Photography)