Lancelot Du Lac (Dean Ivory) is going for his third success of 2017 in the £45,000 Listed Betway Hever Sprint Stakes (2.05pm, 13 entries) at Lingfield Park on Saturday, February 25.
The winner of this five-furlong Polytrack contest will gain an automatic and free place in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships over a furlong further on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 14.
The seven-year-old got the year off to a perfect start when taking a five-furlong handicap at Chelmsford City on January 5 and followed up on February 4 at Lingfield Park in the Listed Betway Best Odds Guaranteed Plus Cleves Stakes over six furlongs, when he scored by a nose from Mythmaker with Pretend (Charlie Appleby) taking fifth when short of room in the final furlong.
Lancelot Du Lac also finished runner-up in the 2016 All-Weather Sprint Championships on Finals Day.
Radlett-based Ivory said today: “Lancelot Du Luc is an intended runner in the Betway Hever Sprint on Saturday at Lingfield Park.
“Everything has been fine with him since his win in the Cleves Stakes last time. We are dropping back to five furlongs, which is a bit on the short side for him, but he needs to run three times to qualify for Finals Day and this will be his third run.
“It looks another hot race, with Pretend in there again. Saturday’s race will be his last outing before Finals Day, as I don’t think there is anything else for him.”
Godolphin’s Pretend, only beaten a length when fifth behind Lancelot Du Lac last time, won the All-Weather Sprint Championships on Finals Day in 2015 and was on the scoresheet on his first outing of 2017 when landing a six-furlong conditions race at Kempton Park on January 11.
Sponsor Betway make Pretend the 15/8 favourite for Saturday’s contest with Lancelot Du Lac a 2/1 chance.
Also engaged are Boom The Groom (Tony Carroll, 7/1), third in the Cleves Stakes and sixth under top-weight in a Class 2 handicap at Wolverhampton yesterday, and Verne Castle (Andrew Balding, 8/1) who steps up to Listed class having won five of his last six starts in handicap company on the All-Weather.
An intriguing contender is Ride Like The Wind (Kevin Ryan, 10/1), who could make his first start for Kevin Ryan having won at G3 level in France for former handler Freddy Head, while Buying Trouble (David Evans, 10/1) is a dual All-Weather scorer and was placed multiple times at Listed level on turf in 2016.
Betway Hever Sprint Stakes, Betway bet: 15/8 Pretend; 2/1 Lancelot Du Lac; 7/1 Boom The Groom; 8/1 Verne Castle; 10/1 Ride Like The Wind, Buying Trouble; 12/1 Kasbah; 14/1 Fine Blend; 20/1 Royal Birth, Encore Dor; 25/1 Bowson Fred, Sign Of The Kodiac, Kashtan
The highlight of Saturday’s card at Lingfield Park is the £100,000 Group Three Betway Winter Derby (3.15pm, 11 confirmations).
The Betway Winter Derby, staged over 10 furlongs on Polytrack, 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.
Heading the market at 5/4 with Betway is Mutakayyef (William Haggas), successful in the G2 Summer Mile at Ascot last season and twice placed at G1 level. He is yet to start on an All-Weather surface.
Also among the five-day conformations are last year’s winner Grendisar (Marco Botti, 6/1), who on to win the 2016 Easter Classic, as well as Betway Winter Derby Trial third Battalion (Jamie Osborne, 9/2) and Convey (Sir Michael Stoute, 11/2), a Listed winner on turf who could make his first start on the All-Weather since making a winning debut at Kempton Park in October, 2014.
Betway Winter Derby, Betway bet: 5/4 Mutakayyef, 9/2 Battalion, 11/2 Convey, 6/1 Grendisar; 12/1 Absolute Blast, Pinzolo; 25/1 Mythical Madness, You’re Fired; 33/1 Zhui Feng; 40/1 Solar Deity; 100/1 Gawdawpalin
Saturday’s cracking seven-race card at Lingfield Park gets underway at 1.30pm and runs through to 5.00pm.