Andrea Atzeni is all smiles as he is led in on Winter Derby winner FarraajPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Farraaj crowned Winter king with Derby victory
Report: Lingfield, Saturday
Blue Square Bet Winter Derby (Group 3) 1m2f, all-weather
FARRAAJ landed the highlight of the winter all-weather season as he came home in front in the Winter Derby in a new course-record time of 2.00.99.
It was the second course record that had fallen on the day after Ladies Are Forever broke the 5f time and the second time the record for 1m2f had fallen in three weeks having been set at 2m1.20 seconds last month.
Irish raider Ansgar led the way for much of the contest until starting to weaken on the downhill run to the home turn.
Eyes were drawn to last year's winner Premio Loco, who travelled menacingly for jockey George Baker behind the new leading pair of Farraaj and Cai Shen.
But Baker could not get his nose through the gap and with his momentum checked he lost his position and Farraaj forged on under jockey Andrea Atzeni, who was completing a quick double.
The four-year-old, placed at a Breeders' Cup and in the Italian 2,000 Guineas, was always holding off Cai Shen and had enough to repel the late thrust of Robin Hoods Bay on the inside rail.
Winning trainer Roger Varian said: "Physically he is not straightforward and is a bit of a character but he has never run a bad race, being third in the Italian Guineas and winning a Listed race.
"This has been his long-term target so it is nice to win and for Andrea who has taken his chance but is not stable jockey as we are not having one this year."