At The Races, pundit Kate Tracey takes a look at the eight riders in Saturday’s Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield Park, live on Sky Sports Racing.
Jockey: Cieren Fallon, Trainer: WJ Haggas
A three-time winner in his career, Alenquer certainly has the ability to win a contest of this nature. He is, after all, already a Royal Ascot winner who came last season in the King Edward VII Stakes.
The ground was listed as heavy in this contest, and it made sense that he would agree to the terms given that he is a son of German-bred Adlerflug.
However, the conditions were not as trying as advertised on the visual impression and the time of the race. Therefore, I think it is dangerous to classify this horse by preferring a deeper surface.
He is making his debut at all times in this race, but he has every chance of venturing onto this new surface. Sure, he has enough questions to answer in terms of track and surface, but his ability should still serve him well enough.
J: Hollie Doyle, T: Archie Watson
Archie Watson and Hambleton Racing are probably not yet back on earth after their success in Doha with Outbox taking home a top prize of over £400,000 and the same connections are teaming up again here with Al Zaraqaan.
Al Zaraqaan is certainly a happier horse on all time where his record of four wins in five starts speaks for itself. That compared to the only victory in six outings on flat grass.
His return to an artificial surface after a four-month break resulted in another success and meant he was unbeaten after four all-time starts at this stage.
He was kicked out as the favorite at the Listed Winter Derby Trial last time out and was able to dictate the pace uphill and looked to keep the race safe. However, he was heading for the last 110 meters before quickly weakening.
If he bounces back, he stays with top claims.
J: Rhys Clutterbuck, T: GL Moore
One of the two most expensive underdogs in the race, Barn Owl certainly has plenty to do in the official rankings. He is currently ranked 91 having moved up the handicap ranks following his novice win at Ripon in June.
His next success came on his penultimate start in the William Hill Silver Cup Handicap at Beverley where he was a well-backed favorite and easily justified the backing.
The subsequent 7-pound increase for this victory was perhaps last revealed when she was only third at Kempton, having been kicked out of the 8/11 favorite for this contest, but weakened for finish third.
Granted, the Marching Army winner won the same course and distance on his next start and looks like a smart guy. Even forgiving that last third-place effort behind two nice guys, there’s still plenty for Barn Owl to do in this business.
J: SM Levey, T: R Hannon
Hat-trick looking for Fancy Man offers to continue improving as he progresses through the ranks. He won the Listed Winter Derby Trial last time out in comfortable style, but he may have been helped by being ridden wider on the home corner.
Nonetheless, it was still a very fair effort to hold King Of The South and Al Zaraqaan second and fourth respectively.
He showed clear signs that he got stronger in this last race because he was able to accelerate in style outside of the regular pace.
In his younger years he lacked that turn of foot and as a great horse it makes sense that he is just filling in his frame now.
He has a lot to find with Lord North and Alenquer on the official rankings, but they are yet to prove themselves at Lingfield. Fancy Man can still improve and only finish third, but he’s still a nice guy.
Forest of Dean
J: KT O’Neill, T: J & T Gosden
The winner of this race last year where he showed a good attitude to win by just under a length, yet he has only had two starts since winning the 2021 Winter Derby.
He hasn’t been seen since June 2021 when he beat just one house in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot and prior to this lesser run he had shown his aptitude for this course and distance.
The Gosdens have a solid record in the Winter Derby, winning the last three renewals.
The other two yard winners were Wissahickon and Dubai Warrior, but John and Thady Gosden are of course also represented by Lord North in this year’s race, making Forest Of Dean a difficult task in itself.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Forest Of Dean following this long layoff and I’m happy to watch him here when he returns.
king of the south
J: Callum Shepherd, T: WJ Knight
King Of The South looks like a decent prize to try your luck in this contest.
The William Knight rep has raced all but one of his 14 career off-road starts where he has shown significant progress over the past two winters.
He entered the Winter Derby Trial last time out bidding for a quadruple and placed second behind Fancy Man, but he didn’t get an ideal run.
It was yet another likable performance from King Of The South and with more luck looks sure to find a place at a high price.
Lord of the North
J: R Havlin, T: J & T Gosden
The best horse in this race is Lord North with his official score of 123 which is proof of that. He is targeting the Winter Derby for his return instead of traveling to Saudi Arabia for Saturday’s Neom Cup.
His return after an 11-month absence instead comes to Lingfield where he should prove his class despite the layoff. The Dubawi gelding is now six years old but should be ready for another strong campaign.
He was an impressive winner of the Group One Prince of Wales’s Stakes in 2020 at Royal Ascot before three more Group One starts this season where he ran for credit twice.
Lord North was last seen winning the Dubai Turf on the World Cup night at Meydan in March 2021. He was an impressive winner of that competition after a four-month break.
Sure, he has a longer absence to challenge here but, all going well, he should win this group three contest.
J: Darragh Keenan, T: J Ryan
The lowest rated horse in the race is Pistoletto who has an official rating of 90.
He found life difficult when he entered a Listed show at Kempton where he finished fourth and since that debut he has had three outings at Sakhir, Bahrain where he has not entered any.
He will enter this race in good shape and return to off-road which should suit him better. However, it is difficult to imagine that it worries the market leaders.
Kate Tracey Verdict
It’s incredibly hard to see the past LORD NORTH for victory in this race and I will be by his side to put his class first with another success on his CV.
Of course, Lord North is a short-term favourite, which makes his support unappealing to many. Therefore, the other angle I like in running is backing up KING OF THE SOUTH each way in the hope that he can run somewhere.