Last year’s winner Grendisar is one of 26 entries, revealed today, for the £100,000 Group Three Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield Park on Saturday, February 25.
The 10-furlong Polytrack contest is 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 (Marco Botti) won both races emphatically in 2016, after which he was crowned All-Weather Horse Of The Year. The seven-year-old is bidding to become the first dual winner of the Betway Winter Derby and is rated a 6/1 chance by sponsor Betway.
Newmarket-based Botti has also entered Poeta Diletto (16/1 with Betway), successful in last season’s G3 Italian 2,000 Guineas, Kyllachy Gala (20/1), who has also come from Italy, and Brex Drago (16/1), who was third on his debut for the stable in a 10-furlong turf handicap at Meydan on January 19.
The classiest horse among the entries is Mutakayyef (William Haggas, 3/1 favourite). The six-year-old son of Sea The Stars 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. He is yet to race on an All-Weather surface.
Decorated Knight (4/1) is another on the up after winning two of his three starts since joining Roger Charlton, latterly running out the decisive two-length victor of the G3 Meld Stakes at Leopardstown in July. The five-year-old Galileo horse is also awaiting his All-Weather debut.
Godolphin took the spoils with Tryster in 2015 and may rely on Team Talk (Saeed bin Suroor, 6/1) this time around. The four-year-old son of Teofilo defied his inexperience in the Listed Betway Churchill Stakes – his third career start – over the course and distance in November, swooping down the outside to win by a half-length.
Absolute Blast (Iain Jardine, 20/1) could be the dark horse in the Betway Winter Derby after two impressive displays in handicaps. Formerly trained in France and thought good enough to contest the G1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), the Kodiac mare was just touched off on her debut for new connections in a Newcastle handicap on Tapeta on December 9.
The five-year-old has left that first performance for 18 months behind in two subsequent starts, taking an extended nine-furlong handicap on Tapeta at Wolverhampton on the bridle on January 6 before a similarly eye-catching success in a class three handicap over a mile on Polytrack at Kempton Park on January 18. As a result, her handicap mark has soared 26lb to a rating of 98.
Jardine, based at Currutherstown near Dumfries, said: “Absolute Blast has come out of Kempton fine and will have an entry next Tuesday [January 31] in the 86-105 fillies’ handicap at Wolverhampton (worth £27,000 & over 1m 141y).
“We always knew she was nice and the biggest surprise we had with her was when she was beaten off 72 at Newcastle! That was a shock, but it is great she has followed up with two really good performances.
“She is not a definite runner in the Winter Derby at this stage, but it is certainly an option as we move down the line. She is a talented horse and I think she is entitled to have an entry, especially given her rating now.
“We won’t be going there with her unless we feel we have a live chance.
“I don’t think stepping up in trip is going to be any problem at all. You can switch her off anywhere in a race and it wouldn’t surprise me if she ended up staying a mile and a half. That’s what I have always thought.”
Other notable Betway Winter Derby entries include Arab Spring (Sir Michael Stoute, 6/1), a comfortable winner of the G3 September Stakes on Polytrack at Kempton Park in September, and stablemate Convey (9/1) who was placed three times at G3 level on turf in 2016.
Jamie Osborne has three entries to choose from, led by seven-year-old Battalion (7/1), who is unbeaten in two starts for theLambourn trainer, and completed by four-year-old Every Chance (20/1), very easy winner of a Wolverhampton maiden in December, 2015 and unraced since, and six-year-old Our Channel (28/1), who has won three times on the All-Weather including the Listed Magnolia Stakes over 10 furlongs in March last year.
There are two possible runners from Ireland, courtesy of Jim Bolger’s four-year-old Teofilo colt Sanus Per Aquam (14/1), a G3 winner and G1 third at two, and 10-year-old Pique Sous (25/1), who has been lightly-raced by Willie Mullins since capturing the 2014 Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot and is one from one on the All-Weather, having captured a Dundalk two-mile maiden in 2013.
The scratchings’ deadline is noon on Tuesday, February 7, while a maximum of 14 runners can take part in the Betway Winter Derby on February 25.
Betway Winter Derby – Betway prices: 3/1 Mutakayyef; 4/1 Decorated Knight; 6/1 Arab Spring, Grendisar, Team Talk; 7/1 Battalion; 9/1 Convey; 14/1 Pinzolo, Sanus Per Aquam; 16/1 Brex Drago, Poeta Diletto, Sixties Groove, Zhui Feng; 20/1 Absolute Blast, Every Chance, Fearless Hunter, Kyllachy Gala, Mythical Madness; 25/1 Belgian Bill, Gabrial, Pique Sous, You’re Fired; 28/1 Our Channel; 33/1 Solar Deity; 40/1 Gawdawpalin; 50/1 Forceful Appeal
The Betway Winter Derby is the feature of a seven-race card at Lingfield Park, which also includes the Listed Betway Hever Sprint, worth £45,000, over five furlongs.
The Betway Winter Derby
Group 3, £100,000 Total prize fund. One mile and two furlongs (Polytrack), 3.15pm, Lingfield Park, Saturday, February 25. For four-year-olds and upwards. Weights: four-year-old colts & geldings 8st 13lb, fillies 8st 10lb; five-year-old and upwards entires & geldings 9st, mares 8st 11lb. Penalties: after May 31, 2016, a winner of a G3 race 3lb, of a G2 race 5lb, of a G1 race 7lb. Entries closed January 24, entries revealed January 25 (26 entries). Scratchings deadline February 7, five-day confirmations February 20, final declarations February 23.
|ABSOLUTE BLAST (IRE)||5||Ibrahim Rachid||Iain Jardine|
|ARAB SPRING (IRE)||7||Ballymacoll Stud||Sir Michael Stoute|
|BATTALION (IRE)||7||Melbourne 10 Racing||Jamie Osborne|
|BELGIAN BILL||9||PJL, Byrne & Baker||George Baker|
|BREX DRAGO (ITY)||5||R Bruni||Marco Botti|
|CONVEY||5||Robert Ng||Sir Michael Stoute|
|DECORATED KNIGHT||5||Saleh Al Homaizi & Imad Al Sagar||Roger Charlton|
|EVERY CHANCE (IRE)||4||Jamie Osborne||Jamie Osborne|
|FEARLESS HUNTER (GER)||7||R Hoel||Rune Haugen|
|FORCEFUL APPEAL (USA)||9||Mark McAllister||Simon Dow|
|GABRIAL (IRE)||8||Dr Marwan Koukash||Richard Fahey|
|GAWDAWPALIN (IRE)||4||H Balasuriya||Sylvester Kirk|
|GRENDISAR (IRE)||7||Middleham Park Racing CXII & K Sohi||Marco Botti|
|KYLLACHY GALA||4||Excel Racing XII||Marco Botti|
|MUTAKAYYEF||6||Hamdan Al Maktoum||William Haggas|
|MYTHICAL MADNESS||6||J C G Chua||David O’Meara|
|OUR CHANNEL (USA)||6||Melbourne 10 Racing||Jamie Osborne|
|PINZOLO||6||Sultan Ali||Ismail Mohammed|
|PIQUE SOUS (FR)||10||Supreme Horse Racing Club/Brett Graham||Willie Mullins IRE|
|POETA DILETTO||4||Scuderia Blueberry S R L||Marco Botti|
|SANUS PER AQUAM (IRE)||4||Jackie Bolger||Jim Bolger IRE|
|SIXTIES GROOVE (IRE)||4||Susan Roy||Jeremy Noseda|
|SOLAR DEITY (IRE)||8||Hodsoll, Chapple-Hyam, Bryan Hirst Ltd||Jane Chapple-Hyam|
|TEAM TALK||4||Godolphin||Saeed bin Suroor|
|YOU’RE FIRED (IRE)||6||Market Avenue Racing Club & Tim Dykes||Karl Burke|
|ZHUI FENG (IRE)||4||John Connolly & Odile Griffith||Amanda Perrett|