No regular reader will be surprised to discover that I am concentrating on Lingfield Park today. The Group Three Betway Winter Derby takes centre stage and a few of the big yards are starting to awaken from their deep winter slumber.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained mare Clear Skies did not trouble the judge for seven runs until she finally broke her maiden at Dundalk in November and has put up a sequence on their all-weather track where she has now won five of her last six starts. She gets a slight weight allowance here but this would need yet another step-up on the form she has shown. If she wasn’t from Ballydoyle I doubt she’d be jolly. Khalidi, a dual Listed winner on turf, will run on an artificial surface for the first time as he makes his debut for the Clive Cox stable. He has gone well at a higher level and if liking underfoot conditions has to be there or thereabouts. Convey bids to land the spoils for the second successive year for trainer Sir Michael Stoute, also won the Easter Classic over C&D last year so is two for two here. Won this off the back of a break last year so the fact the six-year-old gelding hasn’t been seen for a while is not a concern. I happily took 6-1 earlier this week about him as you can’t beat a bit of track and trip form here.
Earlier on the card at 2.05 they have the Listed Betway Hever Sprint Stakes over the five-furlong strip. Some half decent types line-up but for me Gracious John jumps off the page with a course and distance record of three wins from four runs. You can ignore his run over the six here earlier this month as he dropped like a stone through the field late on – out and out sprinting is his game. At his best, he is 3 or 4lb better than these and that’s a lot over five furlongs. Grab the early 9-2