Box To Box has eyes on Turf Series bonus prize

Box To Box has eyes on Turf Series bonus prize
Box To Box, seen here winning at Chester Racecourse in June 2023, bids to land the $40,000 bonus prize in Friday’s final round of the Bahrain Turf Series. Photo credit Alan Wright – Focus On Racing
Co-owners Owen, McManaman and Hargreaves hoping Box To Box can score. Fellow international raider Parlando bids to be joker in the chasing pack. Break-out stars Isle Of Jura and Lucander clash again in Shaikh Nasser Cup.

The fifth and final round of the 2023-24 Bahrain Turf Series takes place on Friday 16th February at the Rashid Equestrian and Horseracing Club and the Hugo Palmer trained Box To Box is in the box seat to land a $40,000 bonus prize as the leading points scorer in the middle-distance division.

Box To Box, a 5-year-old gelding owned by the Running Order Partnership, whose co-owners include former footballers Michael Owen, Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves, currently sits in third place in the table with 18 points, behind Isle Of Jura (25pts) and Lucander (22pts). However, following rises in their handicap ratings, neither Isle Of Jura nor Lucander are eligible for the final round, so Box To Box has been presented with a great scoring opportunity.

Were he to win or finish runner-up in the Vision 2030 race (sponsored by Beyon), Box To Box would secure enough points to overhaul the two horses above him. Placed on his first two runs in the series, with only Isle Of Jura and Lucander getting the better of him, Box To Box has been undergoing a mini-bootcamp since his last run two weeks ago, when he finished out of the money over 1800m.

Trainer, Hugo Palmer, said of Box To Box: “He had five long weeks between his second and third runs and as a consequence of him training on the flat terrain and enjoying the sunshine, he did a little too well in the interim. He definitely needed the run last time out, indeed, beforehand he was heavier than he has ever been for a race but he’s lost all that now and is back to where we want him. Getting him back down to his racing weight and the step back up to 2000m will be in his favour.”

Running from December through to February, the Bahrain Turf Series provides opportunities for internationally trained runners (rated 85-100) to compete against local Bahrain based horses. There are five races in each division, sprint and middle-distance, with each race worth $80,000 and a bonus prize for the horse accumulating most points in its respective division.

Fellow international raider Parlando is the only other horse who could emerge from the chasing pack and win the bonus prize in the middle-distance division. The Ian Williams trained gelding has picked up points in all three of his runs and currently stands on 13 points. With multiple Group 1 winning jockey Gerald Mosse booked, a win, scoring the maximum 15 points, would see the $40,000 bonus prize - worth $25,000 to the owners and $15,000 to the trainer - go to Parlando’s connections, even if Box To Box was to be runner-up.

In the event of Parlando winning and Box To Box finishing second, the two horses would be tied on 28 points, with the bonus prize then awarded to the horse with the most wins in the series.

In the sprint division Brazen Bolt for John and Sean Quinn takes an unassailable lead into the final round being on 40 points, 20 points clear of his nearest rival, Squealer, trained by Nigel Tinkler. To view the standings in the sprint and middle-distance divisions click here.

Although ineligible for the final round of the Bahrain Turf Series, the season’s two leading middle-distance internationals, Isle Of Jura (trained by George Scott) and Lucander (trained by George Baker), are also in action on Friday, competing for a first prize of $81,000.

The pair run in the His Highness Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa Cup (sponsored by Bapco Energies) over 2200m and it will be their fourth clash of the season. The progressive Isle Of Jura holds a 2-1 lead over Lucander, following his win when stepping up from the Bahrain Turf Series to win the Listed Crown Prince’s Cup earlier this month. However, Lucander is the defending title holder, having won the 2023 running of the Shaikh Nasser Cup.

The final two races in the 2023-24 Bahrain Turf Series can be watched live on Racing TV, while the whole card, including the Shaikh Nasser Cup, is available via the live stream from the Rashid Equestrian and Horseracing Club YouTube channel.

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