Marco Botti is hoping Grendisar can bounce to his best in the £100,000 Group Three Betway Winter Derby (3.15pm, 11 entries) at Lingfield Park on Saturday, February 25.
The 10-furlong Polytrack contest is a major race in its own right as well as being a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same course and distance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 14.
Grendisar, an 11/2 chance with sponsor Betway for Saturday’s contest, won both races decisively in 2016 and was named All-Weather Horse of The Year. The seven-year-old has been slightly below that level in three starts this winter and was last seen out finishing well in fourth, beaten a length and half by Decorated Knight, in the Listed Betway Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield Park on February 4.
Botti said today: “Grendisar hasn’t quite had things go his way so far this winter. He has been running decent races and the Winter Derby Trial was a very competitive race last time.
“Luckily, the winner and second [Arab Spring] have taken a different road and are going to Dubai and Qatar. But William Haggas’s horse Mutakayyef sets a very high standard on Saturday.
“We are happy with Grendisar and, to be honest, I think he is in better shape now than he was going into the Winter Derby Trial.
“It took him three races to get to his best last winter and we could not be happier with what we have seen at home. Whether it’s enough to beat the favourite, we will see.”
Mutakayyef (William Haggas) is the 11/8 market leader with Betway after an excellent 2016 campaign on turf. The six-year-old captured the G2 Summer Mile at Ascot in July before finishing third in both the G1 Juddmonte International at York and Canada’s G1 Woodbine Mile, but has not raced since September.
Other high-profile contenders for the Betway Winter Derby include Listed scorer Convey (Sir Michael Stoute, 9/2 with Betway), who was placed in three G3 contests on turf in 2016, multiple course and distance victor Battalion (Jamie Osborne, 5/1) and progressive filly Absolute Blast (Archie Watson, 12/1).
Betway Winter Derby – Betway prices: 11/8 Mutakayyef; 9/2 Convey; 5/1 Battalion; 11/2 Grendisar; 12/1 Absolute Blast, Pinzolo; 25/1 Mythical Madness, You’re Fired; 33/1 Zhui Feng; 40/1 Solar Diety; 100/1 Gawdawpalin
Saturday’s seven-race card at Lingfield Park also features the £45,000 Listed Betway Hever Sprint Stakes (2.05pm, 13 entries), a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 14.
The entries for the five-furlong contest are headed by Lancelot Du Lac (Dean Ivory), who captured the Listed Betway Best Odds Guaranteed Plus Cleves Stakes at the course earlier this month, and 2015 All-Weather Sprint Championships hero Pretend (Charlie Appleby).
Betway Hever Sprint Stakes – Betway prices: 15/8 Pretend; 2/1 Lancelot Du Lac; 7/1 Boom The Groom; 8/1 Verne Castle; 10/1 Buying Trouble, Ride Like The Wind; 12/1 Kasbah; 14/1 Fine Blend; 20/1 Encore Dor, Royal Birth; 25/1 Bowson Fred, Sign Of The Kodiac; 100/1 Kashtan