It’s quite a big day on the All-Weather this weekend as down at Lingfield Park its Winter Derby day and it will surprise no-one I am getting involved.
The Lingfield card, of course, has been affected by the prize-money row with the last two races being affected. No runners were declared Thursday for the lucky last the five-furlong Novice Stakes from an entry of nine, while only the Nick Littmoden-trained Greybychoice, was declared from the 18 entries for the mile Novice Stakes at 4.10. A shame for us punters but you can see their point as the two races are each worth £4,500 this year compared to £5,800 last. Nick Littmoden has said he will donate his winning trainer's prize-money, which he will get for the Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Novice Stakes to the Injured Jockeys Fund.
Anyway to the races that you can have a punt on and the beasts burdened with the Triple G cash.
The Group Three Winter Derby is the big one on the Polytrack at 3.15 over the 1m2f course. Wissahickon has been odds-on all week and is rated a minimum of 8lb above the opposition. The John Gosden trained 4yo has been in cracking form and has only been beaten once on the All-Weather at Chelmsford City as a two-year-old back in November 2017. Basically, he is unbackable at 4-11.
They face five furlongs for the Listed Hever Sprint Stakes at 2.05. Only six run but some decent types line-up in the shape of Corinthia Knight and Encore D’Or to name but two; in fact Ornate is the lowest rated on a mark of 95 confirming the quality on show. For me, Encore D’Or is the class act, and he seven-year-old’s All-Weather record is pretty solid. He really likes it here especially and his track and trip record reads 6-runs, 3-wins, 2-places. I have a bit of the 2-1 from Friday afternoon bpg. He had the measure of Ornate at Newcastle last time whilst Corinthia Knight is a C&D winner who merits respect. Gorgeous Noora remains on the upgrade and with the 5lb weight allowance may prove the biggest danger.
The 1m4f Betway Casino Handicap at 2.35 can go to the bang in form Fearsome. The 5yo went hurdling last autumn but returned to the All-Weather in December and has not looked back since. Unbeaten in his four runs on artificial surfaces since then, with three of those coming over track and trip, he can’t be opposed in his current mood. Up another 5lb but he won with such authority last time there is no reason to think he can’t take that in his stride. Adam Kirby is back on-board, rode three of the last four wins, and at 6-4 he is short enough truth be told but strongly fancied. Fellow C&D winner Cosmeapolitan is the one that might give him most to think about.
After the Winter Derby, it is the Follow Sun Racing On Twitter Handicap over 1m at 3.50. Goring has not won in nearly a year and has been a victim of his own consistency – running well without winning so not getting the breaks in the weights. Off 101 here with Georgia Dobie taking off 7lb he is effectively off 94 and that is a mark he can win off. Young Georgia Dobie is doing alright, rode four winners this year already, and trainer Eve Johnson Houghton knows the time of day. The seven-year-old is a four-time C&D winner and in fairness has simply found some very good horses too good in recent weeks – 4th in the Listed Quebec Stakes behind Wissahickon, Big Country (both in Winter Derby), and Scarlet Dragon (runs in the G.2 Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton) and then second to Hathal (also Winter Derby runner) last time at Wolverhampton. At 3-1 he is worth a punt to get back to winning ways.
Nothing much jumps off the page at me at Wolverhampton in the evening other than Alkaamel in the7.00 but the gelding will be odds-on and shouldn’t be backed that short.
As for the jumps plenty going on at Kempton but I am watching rather than punting. Talking of the Jumps, Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy will stay at home again this weekend and doesn’t run in the BetVictor Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse as planned.