Sky Sports Racing’s Vanessa Ryle has cast her eye over Saturday’s eight-race card at Lingfield where the Group Three Winter Derby is the feature contest.
Winter Derby day at Lingfield Park plays host to a top-class card including handicaps, novices, listed and Group action and looks to be as competitive as ever this year with the highlight of the day being the Betway Winter Derby itself, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Promoted to Group Three status in 2006, it is one of four Group races run on synthetic surfaces in the UK and is the first Group race of the calendar year. Here I have picked out five horses to keep an eye out for throughout the card on Saturday.
Betway Hever Sprint Stakes (1.30)
Karl Burke’s sprinter has won four races in his career, three of them on the All-Weather and one of them here at Lingfield.
That victory came in the 2023 Kachy Stakes over six furlongs when he was considered an outsider of the field.
But, that record doesn’t do his form at Lingfield justice as he was only just touched off in the big sprint on Finals Day in 2023 and on top of that he had a torrid run through in this year’s renewal of the Kachy Stakes, finishing sixth with a full tank of petrol behind a 1-2 for his trainer.
He is probably better at six furlongs than he is at the five but there looks to be plenty of pace in this race which will help his cause.
Betway Winter Derby Stakes (2.05)
Lord North’s declaration is not only the feature race of the day but arguably of the year at Lingfield Park, adds real and genuine class to proceedings.
In the official Longines World Rankings of 2023, Lord North was ranked as the eighth best British horse behind the likes of classic winners Hurricane Lane and Adayar.
That ranking was based on his run in the Dubai Turf on World Cup night at Meydan and it looks as though this is a steppingstone to defending that title in four weeks’ time.
Lord North hasn’t been seen since that Dubai Turf victory and, as a result, he is entitled to be a little ring rusty.
There is unlikely to be fireworks in terms of his performance, but he has all the tools to operate well around Lingfield including a high cruising speed and a sharp turn of foot.
Trainer John Gosden has won the last three runnings of the Winter Derby with Wissahickon, Dubai Warrior and Forest of Dean and, although they all brought in a high level of form, none of those previous winners would be able to lay a glove on Lord North at his best.
It is rare we get to see a horse of his calibre on the All-Weather.
Mansionbet Proud Partners Of The Awc Handicap (2.40)
Ed Walker’s low milage six-year-old has a unique profile having been sent to Hong Kong in 2020 where he was trained by Douglas Whyte with limited success.
He then returned to the UK in late 2023 and has since had five starts for Walker and remains unexposed at the mile after just three tries at that trip.
There are viable excuses to be made for when we saw him seemingly disappoint at Wolverhampton last time out in a small field and messy run race.
The run before that, behind the unstoppable La Tihaty, is a standout bit of form as the pair pulled clear of the rest.
This will be his first start at Lingfield, but he has shown his versatility in the past and has the gears to go well around here.
Betway Handicap (3.10)
David Lowe’s mare will spark memories for many of the late, great Kachy who still holds the track record here over this trip.
In the same colours and partnered by the same jockey in Richard Kingscote, Fizzy Feet may lack the standout raw power that Kachy showed in famous wins at the track, but she does still tick plenty of the same boxes as she’s fast and travels around the Lingfield bends as if she is on rails.
She found Listed company a little too stiff last time out here, but she wasn’t beaten too far in the end and has gone close off similar marks in handicap company in the past.
Play Coral Racing-Super-Series For Free Novice Stakes (4.20)
Roger and Harry Charlton’s New Approach colt has a pedigree leaning towards the All-Weather given that he is out of Comeback Queen, whose sole win came at the course and distance, and he is a half-brother to Bubble And Squeak and Nonchalant, both of which secured victories on synthetic surfaces.
Ludus made a promising debut at Kempton behind a handful of horses who had all had the benefit of a previous run and the winner, Nobel Prospect, looks above average.
He ran as though he would improve for the experience at Kempton and now comes here for his second start and for a team who have been in good form of late with three of their last seven runners winning.