Dual Group One winner Lord North is set to make his return from almost a year on the sidelines in the Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield on Saturday.
Impressive when landing the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot 2020, John and Thady Gosden’s charge has been off the track since winning the Dubai Turf on World Cup night at Meydan 11 months ago.
The Dubawi gelding had the option of travelling to Saudi Arabia for this weekend’s Neom Cup, but will instead make his comeback on home soil.
Thady Gosden said: “Lord North obviously been off the track for a long time, so it seems sensible to keep him at home for his first run.
“The Winter Derby looks a more competitive race than last year, so we shall see what happens.
“He’s got all the enthusiasm he’s always had and he’s been training well enough at home. We’re very pleased with him really.
“We’d like to go back to Dubai with him, but we’ve got to get over this hurdle first.”
Lord North is likely be joined in this weekend’s Group Three feature by his stablemate Forest Of Dean, who won last year’s renewal.
He too must overcome a lengthy absence, having not been seen in competitive action since finishing down the field in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer.
“He obviously ran great in this last year and deserves to take his chance again,” the trainer added.
Gosden junior is currently in Riyadh ahead of Mishriff’s defence of Saturday’s Saudi Cup and reports the five-year-old to have arrived safe and sound.
He said: “He landed this morning. The weather is nice and cool enough out here at the moment and he seems well in himself.
“We also have Harrovian in the Neom Cup. He’s travelled well too, he ran well behind Pyledriver at Lingfield last time and he’s a horse who has always had plenty of ability.”
The biggest threat to Lord North on ratings at Lingfield is the William Haggas-trained Alenquer, who won the King Edward VII Stakes at the Royal meeting last season before going on to chase Mishriff home in the Juddmonte International. He was last seen finishing ninth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Fancy Man is an obvious contender for Richard Hannon after winning the Winter Derby Trial over the course and distance three weeks ago.
Archie Watson’s Al Zaraqaan, who finished fourth when favourite for that Listed event, could bid to turn the form around, as could William Knight’s runner-up King Of The South.
Barn Owl (Gary Moore), Pistoletto (John Ryan) and Rose Of Kildare (Charlie and Mark Johnston) also remain in the mix following Monday’s confirmation stage.