Classy Mutakayyef goes on trial for Dubai Turf
Betway Winter Derby (Group 3) l 1m2f | 4yo+ | ITV4/ATR
Mutakayyef bids to become only the second horse to defy a Group 2 penalty in the 20th running of this £100,000 feature in which he is out to stop last year's winner Grendisar creating his own slice of history.
Champion jockey Jim Crowley makes the trip from Dubai for his first domestic appearance of the year at Lingfield, where he will sit on Mutakayyef for the first time as part of his new retainer for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum.
The six-year-old, who picks up his 5lb extra burden for winning the Summer Mile at Ascot last year, is using this as a prep for next month's Group 1 Dubai Turf at Meydan but should be pretty straight after impressing onlookers in a workout before racing at Chelmsford last week.
His main rival looks to be last year's winner Grendisar, who is bidding to become the first horse to win the race twice.
Marco Botti's stalwart was not disgraced when finishing a close fourth in the Winter Derby Trial last time, which was a strong renewal with Decorated Knight and Arab Spring fighting out the finish.
Just ahead of Grendisar in third that day was Battalion, who was carrying a 3lb penalty and could fare better than his previous outing in this when sixth in 2015.
Going into uncharted territory is the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Convey, who has yet to race beyond nine furlongs and runs for the first time for Robert Ng having sold for 120,000gns at Tattersalls last October.
Trainer Archie Watson is having his first Group runner with new recruit Absolute Blast.
Adam Kirby is on a hat-trick in this after Tryster (2015) and today's mount Grendisar 12 months ago.
What they say
William Haggas, trainer of Mutakayyef
His training has been excellent. We had the choice of going here or to Dubai next Saturday and we plumped for here. He had a racecourse gallop at Chelmsford which went fine. I know he has a penalty but he's a talented horse and I've no problems about the trip and the track at all. The idea is to have him ready for the Dubai Turf, which has been the plan since Canada last year.
Andrea Atzeni, rider of Convey
He's been gelded since last year, when I thought I had a race won on him at Haydock. He has his quirks and would have chances of making the frame, although Mutakayyef looks hard to beat.
Marco Botti, trainer of Grendisar
He's fine and we're very much looking forward to another crack at the the race. He ran well in the trial, which was a strong race this year with the likes of Decorated Knight and Arab Spring in there and, while they're not in it this time, Mutakayyef looks a worthy opponent. I'm sure he'll be thereabouts, as he usually is.
Ismail Mohammed, trainer of Pinzolo
He's had a good winter so far and likes the track so goes there with a solid chance. The step back in trip is a slight concern but he should still give a good account.
Jane Chapple-Hyam, trainer of Solar Deity
His run three weeks ago was his trial as he was only 80 per cent fit and was drawn wide. He has a better draw this time but the top two in the betting look tough to beat. We're not expecting to win but if he can finish third or fourth we'll be very happy.
Karl Burke, trainer of You're Fired
He's stepping up in trip but we're going to give it a go. He definitely stays nine furlongs and, although I'm not sure Lingfield plays to his strengths, hopefully the step up in trip should help temper that. It's a bit of an experiment but if it does work and he runs well, it also qualifies him for Good Friday as it will be his third run. The plan is then to go for the Lincoln.
Archie Watson, trainer of Absolute Blast
We haven’t had her very long but I've been very happy with everything she's done. She's a good-moving filly and you can see from her form she's very progressive. I know Mutakayyef very well and he's a very talented horse, but a few of these others that have been running will be race-fit and you can’t run away from one horse.