Victory Bond faces eight opponents in the £45,000 Listed Betway Winter Derby Trial (3.05pm), one of two Fast-Track Qualifiers on Polytrack at Lingfield Park this Saturday, February 3.
The winner of the 10-furlong contest is guaranteed a free start in the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same course and distance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 30.
The £100,000 G3 Betway Winter Derby takes place at Lingfield Park on Saturday, February 24, and is the last of four Fast-Track Qualifiers for the Betway Easter Classic
Victory Bond (William Haggas/Ryan Moore), who tops the ante-post betting for the Betway Winter Derby, is the 2/1 favourite for Saturday’s race following an easy four-length victory in a conditions race at Wolverhampton on January 8.
The five-year-old is top-rated alongside high-class mare Elbereth (Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy, 5/1 with Betway) with a rating of 107. Elbereth has succeeded on three of her eight starts on the All-Weather and finished second in two G2 contests on turf last year.
Newmarket trainer Marco Botti has captured the Betway Winter Derby Trial five times since 2009, including back-to-back victories with Grendisar in 2015 and 2016, and is represented by All-Weather debutant Red Label (Andrea Atzeni, 7/1).
Red Label has had two runs in Italy since joining the stable in the autumn, finishing third in a G3 contest at San Siro in October and fifth, beaten three lengths, in the G2 Premio Roma GBI Racing at Capannelle on November 26.
The four-year-old Dubawi colt defeated subsequent G2 scorer Taj Mahal at Gowran Park in April when trained by Jessica Harrington.
Botti said: “Red Label has run a couple of times for us in Italy. I thought he ran a good race in the G3 to finish third and it was a respectable run in the Premio Roma when he wasn’t beaten far.
“The ground was too soft for him in the Premio Roma, but the form has been boosted with the runner-up [Mac Mahon] winning the Qatar Derby.
“Red Label is fit and ready to go, and we are pleased with his condition. From what I can see at home, he goes well on the All-Weather and has been working nicely.
“We are trying him in cheekpieces because Lingfield is a sharp track and we want to keep him focused. Based on ratings, he should have a good chance in what looks a competitive race.
“The Winter Derby and Good Friday would probably be the plan after this, although there is also a race in Qatar at the end of the month to consider. We will see how he goes on Saturday and then make a plan.”
Petite Jack (Archie Watson/Luke Morris, 9/2) is in the form of his life, having repelled Mia Tesoro (Charlie Fellowes/Stevie Donohoe, 12/1) by a neck in the Listed Betway Quebec Stakes over the course and distance on December 23.
Utmost (John Gosden/Robert Havlin, 7/1) and Intern (David Simcock/Fran Berry, 10/1), who were third and fourth in the Betway Quebec Stakes, Fire Fighting (Mark Johnston/P J McDonald, 10/1) and Battle Of Marathon (John Ryan/Paul Mulrennan, 25/1) complete the runners in the Betway Winter Derby Trial on Saturday.
Betway Winter Derby Trial – Betway prices: 2/1 Victory Bond; 9/2 Petite Jack; 5/1 Elbereth; 7/1 Red Label, Utmost; 10/1 Fire Fighting, Intern; 12/1 Mia Tesoro; 25/1 Battle Of Marathon 1/5 odds 1, 2, 3
Saturday’s other Fast-Track Qualifier is the six-furlong £45,000 Betway Cleves Stakes (2.00pm), in which the maximum field of 12 will be fighting for a free and guaranteed spot in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships.
G3 scorer Kachy (Tom Dascombe/Richard Kingscote) finished second in the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on turf in 2016 and has a 100 per cent record on the All-Weather after readily defying top-weight in a six-furlong handicap at Lingfield Park on January 19. He is the 100/30 favourite with Betway.
Lancelot Du Lac (Dean Ivory/Robert Winston, 15/2), who captured the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood last summer, is bidding for back-to-back victories in the Betway Cleves Stakes.
Five-furlong specialist Caspian Prince (Tony Coyle/Ben Curtis, 7/2), a G2 winner on turf, has already booked his Good Friday place with victory in a Newcastle Fast-Track Qualifier on Tapeta on January 2.
Kimberella (Richard Fahey/Paul Hanagan, 8/1) and Gracious John (David Evans/Fran Berry, 13/2), first and second in the 2016 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships on Good Friday, reoppose.
Intisaab (David O’Meara/Martin Harley, 10/1), Gulliver (Hugo Palmer/Josephine Gordon, 14/1), Mythmaker (Bryan Smart/Paul Mulrennan, 10/1) and Double Up (Roger Varian/Ryan Moore, 6/1), who filled the first four places in a Wolverhampton conditions race on December 26, add further spice to an excellent contest.
Betway Cleves Stakes – Betway prices: 100/30 Kachy; 7/2 Caspian Prince; 6/1 Double Up; 13/2 Gracious John; 15/1 Lancelot Du Lac; 8/1 Kimberella; 10/1 Intisaab, Mythmaker; 14/1 Gulliver; 20/1 Ice Age, Princess Asta, Royal Birth
1/5 odds 1, 2, 3
A seven-race card at Lingfield Park on Saturday gets underway at 12.50pm and runs through until 4.15pm.