Makinmedoit (red cap) chases home Al Agaila at Lingfield

Al Agaila on the trail of the hat-trick in the Winter Oaks feature

Al Agaila tries to complete his hat trick at talkSPORT Winter Oaks at Lingfield on Saturday.

After three placed efforts last summer, the filly of Simon and Ed Crisford went wild when she opened her account at Kempton last month before continuing with an equally impressive style in the Winter Oaks Trial on this course and this distance just before Christmas.

An 11-pound ride makes life a whole lot harder, but a bold offer can nonetheless be expected in Lingfield’s £100,000 all-weather feature at the Winter Million Festival.

“She went up 11 pounds for her win last time, when she won very impressively. She’s an improving filly, but 11lbs is a big hike,” said Ed Crisford.

“She has a good draw (stall two). It’s a big step up, but if she can handle the extra 11 pounds, I’m sure she’s capable of better things.

“She is potentially an exciting filly.”

Makinmedoit, trained by Harry Eustace, was beaten two-and-a-half lengths to second place by Al Agaila just over four weeks ago and has significant pull at the weights.

“Makinmedoit has truly been a star and continues to improve,” Eustace said.

Makinmedoit (red cap) pursues Al Agaila at Lingfield

“We’re 10 pounds better at weight with Crisford’s horse, which probably won’t be enough, but we’ve come a long way that day and there are fewer riders this time around, which is amazing considering the cash prize.

“If we could just sit a little closer, you never know.”

Eustace has a second string to his bow in At A Pinch, who hasn’t raced on the flat since 2021 but is in good shape after a recent spell over obstacles.

Eustace added: “With At A Pinch, the money was just too good not to roll the dice with it. She was bought to be a hurdler, but she’s got a flat shape and there’s no reason she can’t run a race.

“I was actually looking at the prize money for Cheltenham the other day and if she was the best hurdler we had there she would run for £125,000 more prize money and she can run for an added £100,000 in a fillies handicap with eight runners, so we’ll see how we go.

“It’s extraordinary that there are fewer riders this time than for the test race a month ago. Everyone complains about the prize money, they put it on and no one goes, but here we are.

Another trainer launching a double assault is Charlie Fellowes, with the high-weight purple ribbon joined by stablemate Tequilamockingbird.

Purple Ribbon returns to the Fillies Handicap after finishing second behind the highly rated Belloccio in the Listed Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton in November, while Tequilamockingbird was just a short head behind Makinmedoit when third in the Winter Oaks Trial.

“Purple Ribbon is a very rare filly, but she is very consistent. Barring an unfortunate run around Lingfield, she didn’t finish the top two,” Fellowes said.

“She ran a blinder last time in a fairly competitive Listed. She has class in the race, but she has to give weight to everyone, which will be difficult.

“But she’s a pretty good filly and I have no worries about falling at 10 furlongs as she has a lot of speed so I can’t wait to see her run.

“Tequilamockingbird is a model of consistency and has a very good record around Lingfield – 10 furlongs around is literally perfect for her.

“She was a bit unlucky last time when they didn’t gallop at all and at a faster pace she goes there with a nice squeal each way.”

Charlie Fellowes is delighted with the prize money offered to Lingfield
Charlie Fellowes is delighted with the prize money offered to Lingfield

Fellowes was keen to congratulate Lingfield owners Arena Racing Company for putting together such huge prize money at a time when owners are struggling to resist huge offers from overseas.

He added: ‘You have to give full credit to the CRA. It’s a prize like this that will encourage people to keep horses in training and Tequilamockingbird is a perfect example of that as she was to be sold at the mare sale last year and I managed to persuade owners to remove her from sale and keep her in training over the winter to try her hand at it.

“That’s what everyone wants – to see horses kept in training in Britain. We have a fantastic industry and it’s frustrating for many people that the cream of our horses tends to be sold to the stranger.

“The more we can get of this (prize money), the more we can keep the horses in training and fend off those ridiculous offers we get from abroad.

“It’s all about the prize money and the more money we can offer the more we can incentivize our owners to keep horses here and the stronger our industry will be.”

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