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Starman to kick off campaign with York outing

Ed Walker intends to start his smart sprinter Starman in the Duke of York Clipper Logistic Stakes on the Knavesmire in May.

The four-year-old son of Dutch Art only made his racecourse debut last July, but quickly made his mark when winning his first three races, culminating in a Listed contest at York in September.

On the back of that, Starman was given a first Group One opportunity in the British Champions Sprint but he could not handle the testing conditions at Ascot and finished down the field behind Glen Shiel.

Walker feels it is best to ignore that run and he is looking forward to the 2021 campaign.

“He’s in the Duke Of York. That will be his starting point for the year and we’ll go from there,” said the Upper Lambourn trainer.

“He’s done great. He’s a big horse. He did well to do what he did last year. He has filled his frame and strengthened up – we’re very excited.

“He was an unbeaten Listed winner and went to Ascot in the mud and didn’t like that.

“We’re hoping that back on a sounder surface, he’ll be back to his best. Sometimes it’s not at that meeting at York, but we’ll just have to hope for some fast ground.

“He had looked good and we’ll put a line through Ascot last year, the Champion Sprint. We hope to get him back on track.”

Amniarix heads to Kempton on Monday
Amniarix heads to Kempton on Monday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Walker reports Amniarix to be heading to Kempton for the Racing TV Snowdrop Fillies’ Stakes at Kempton on Easter Monday.

He has had this Listed contest in mind since the daughter of Speightstown completed a hat-trick at Wolverhampton in January.

“She on course for the Snowdrop. She’s in good form and that has been the target since she won in January,” he said.

“We’re looking to get some black type.”

Snowdrop is likely target for Amniarix

Amniarix is set to bid for Listed honours in Kempton’s Snowdrop Stakes at the end of March following her impressive victory at Wolverhampton.

The lightly-raced filly completed a hat-trick in Monday evening’s fast-track qualifier but is unlikely to take up her place in the all-weather championships at Lingfield on Good Friday (April 2).

Connections took the daughter of Speightstown to Dunstall Park to see if she could be good enough to step into Pattern company – and trainer Ed Walker was delighted Amniarix answered in the affirmative.

“It was a bit of a fact-finding mission,” said the Upper Lambourn handler.

“We wanted to find out whether or not she was a filly that could be getting some black type later this year.

“If so she’d stay in training and if not then to be retired and covered as a broodmare. She answered that question correctly, which is good news. She’s an exciting filly for the season ahead.

“She’s come out of the race very well. She’s improving rapidly, and that was an impressive and pleasing performance.”

Amniarix, racing in the familiar black and yellow colours of owner/breeder Bjorn Nielsen, easily accounted for Shimmering Dawn by two lengths.

Walker added: “I think it’s highly unlikely she will go for finals day.

“One, there is massively reduced prize money – and, probably more significantly, she is an extremely well-bred filly and we’d rather try and get some black type for her in a race like the Snowdrop at the same sort of time as the all-weather finals.

“I need to sit down and have a chat with Bjorn. (But) I think the Snowdrop is an obvious target, given how well she goes on the surface, and I think that is going to be her main target from here. Where we go afterwards depends on that.

“I’d like to think we can give her a little break now, freshen her up and start off in the Snowdrop. I think that will be the plan, but I’ve to confirm it with Bjorn.”

Amniarix takes fast-track qualifier honours at Wolverhampton

Amniarix continued on an upward curve with an impressive success in the Get Your Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Fillies’ Conditions Stakes at Wolverhampton.

The Ed Walker-trained four-year-old was a course and distance scorer in November before following up over a mile at Kempton, and she returned to seven furlongs to record a stylish effort in the first fast-track qualifier of the year for All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday.

Ridden patiently by Richard Kingscote, the Bjorn Nielsen-owned daughter of Speightstown picked up smartly when asked from the top of the straight, sweeping to a two-length victory over Shimmering Dawn as the 7-4 favourite.

Dancing Feet set out to make all under Hollie Doyle and kept on for third, another length and a half away.

Kingscote said: “She’s done well this winter and gave me a lovely ride throughout, very straightforward. I just had to trust that she’d pick up in the straight as she’d done on her last couple of runs and she did it nicely.

“I got a nice lead round, and as I say she was very smooth. Although I came wide off the turn, she was picking up nicely.”

Walker’s charge is now qualified for the Fillies & Mares Championship over the same distance at Lingfield on April 2, and while the Surrey circuit would present a different test, Kingscote feels she would adapt to it.

He told Sky Sports Racing: “I think connections wanted to find out a bit more today, see where they are with her and what the future holds. She’s opened up some avenues for them.

“Lingfield is a sharp track, but she’s a good traveller and a well-balanced filly. She’s pretty straightforward and I can’t see it posing a problem.”

The victory was the highlight of a treble on the card for Kingscote, who had struck earlier in the evening through Album (6-1) and My Girl Maggie (6-4 favourite).