Group Three winners Arab Spring and Decorated Knight head a classy field of eight for the £45,000 Listed Betway Winter Derby Trial Stakes (3.05pm) at Lingfield Park on Saturday, February 4.
The 10-furlong Polytrack contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same course and distance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 14, with the winner guaranteed a free run.
Arab Spring (Sir Michael Stoute/Ryan Moore) is unbeaten in two starts on the All-Weather, including an impressive victory in the 12-furlong G3 September Stakes on Polytrack at Kempton Park in September.
The seven-year-old Monsun horse, successful on six of his 13 outings, also captured the 2014 Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot before taking the following year’s G3 John Porter Stakes at Newbury.
All-Weather debutant Decorated Knight (Roger Charlton/Andrea Atzeni) is having his first start since running out an easy two-length winner of the nine-furlong G3 Meld Stakes at Leopardstown in July. The five-year-old Galileo horse, with four wins from 10 starts, was beaten in the last stride on Investec Derby Day at Epsom Downs in the G3 Investec Diomed Stakes over an extended mile in June.
Grendisar (Marco Botti/Adam Kirby) is bidding for a third triumph in the Betway Winter Derby Trial. He followed up last year’s success with victories over the course and distance in the G3 Winter Derby and the £200,000 Easter Classic on Good Friday, after which he was crowned All-Weather Horse Of The Year.
Lambourn trainer Jamie Osborne is doubly represented with multiple course scorer Battalion (pictured) (George Baker), who captured the Listed Betway Quebec Stakes impressively in December, and Our Channel (Jamie Spencer).
Our Channel is also winner at this level on the All-Weather, having won the Listed Magnolia Stakes at Kempton Park in March when trained by William Haggas.
Osborne said today: “Both Battalion and Our Channel are in good form.
“They are both entered in the Winter Derby [February 25] and are also in the Grand Prix at St Moritz, which is run the following day.
“At the moment, we are open-minded about which way we are going to go, so we have decided to run them both on Saturday and see where we stand. If one of them emerges as being a serious Winter Derby candidate, they will stay here for that and the other will probably go to St Moritz.
“On form, it looks like Battalion is the better of the two at the moment, but Our Channel is a decent horse as well.
“Our Channel wore cheekpieces when he was with William Haggas and I don’t see any downside to putting them back on. We thought we would roll the dice and see what happens.”
The Betway Winter Derby Trial field is completed by Forceful Appeal (Simon Dow/Tom Marquand), Mythical Madness (David O’Meara/Danny Tudhope) and Solar Deity (Jane Chapple-Hyam/Stevie Donohoe).
Pretend (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) and Lancelot Du Lac (Dean Ivory/Robert Winston), drawn one and five respectively, are among another quality field for the £45,000 Listed Betway Best Odds Guaranteed Plus Cleves Stakes (2.00pm, eight runners) over six furlongs.
Both horses appeared back to their best last time out, with Pretend annexing a six-furlong conditions race at Kempton Park and Lancelot Du Lac defying top-weight in a five-furlong class two handicap at Chelmsford City.
The line-up also includes Gracious John (David Evans/Adam Kirby), who was placed at G2 level on turf last season, Justice Good (David Elsworth/Shane Kelly) and Rivellino (Karl Burke/Dougie Costello), who has won this race for the last two years.
Racing gets underway at 12.50pm and runs through until 4.15pm.