A host of All-Weather stars including Dubai Warrior and Sangarius feature among 19 entries for the G3 Betway Winter Derby (10f) at Lingfield Park on Saturday, February 27, details of which were revealed on Wednesday.
The 2020 Betway Winter Derby hero Dubai Warrior (John Gosden) had until recently carried an air of invincibility over 10 furlongs at Lingfield Park, with no rival getting within two and three-quarter lengths of him in three victories over the course and distance.
Sangarius (Sir Michael Stoute) however brought that winning run to an end, albeit in receipt of 3lb, in a quality edition of the Listed Betway Quebec Stakes in December, overcoming Bangkok (Andrew Balding) and Dubai Warrior by a nose and a neck in a tremendous finish.
This was the first step on the road to redemption for Sangarius, who as a three-year-old looked set for stardom when running away with the G3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019 but has been restricted to just two starts since. Khalid Abdullah’s homebred is the 15/8 favourite with Betway while Dubai Warrior is next in at 5/2.
Sangarius (pink cap) defeats Bangkok and Dubai Warrior , picture All Weather Championships
Britain’s champion trainer John Gosden has a strong hand as he chases a third consecutive Betway Winter Derby. Dubai Warrior is joined by Global Giant, a Listed winner on turf at Newbury in July, and Godolphin runner Forest Of Dean.
Felix has put himself in the Betway Winter Derby picture after taking the scalps of Bangkok, Forest Of Dean and Sinjaari (Roger Charlton) in a hotly-contested conditions race at Wolverhampton on January 11.
The progressive five-year-old has now won four of his five starts on the All-Weather since joining Newmarket handler Marco Botti, with this success following class two handicap wins at Wolverhampton, Lingfield Park and Kempton Park last winter. Felix is an 8/1 shot with Betway.
Botti, who landed the Winter Derby in 2016 with Grendisar, said: “Felix had a setback after his win at Kempton last year, so we decided to give him plenty of time.
“We were really encouraged by his comeback at Wolverhampton. To beat Bangkok having had a long time off was a fair effort. From what we were seeing at home, we felt Felix had matured and it was nice to confirm that impression on the track.
“In theory, he should come on from that because in an ideal world we would have liked another week or 10 days to get him ready. We thought he was at about 85 per cent, but we wanted to get a run into him. He should improve.
“Felix showed last season that he handles Lingfield well. The plan is to go for the Winter Derby Trial [February 6, Lingfield Park] and then, all being well, the Betway Winter Derby itself.”
There has yet to be an Irish-trained winner of the Betway Winter Derby, though that could change this year with three entries. Ado McGuinness has two talented contenders in Bowerman, winner of the G3 Diamond Stakes at Dundalk in September, and impressive Listed scorer Saltonstall. The Irish challengers are completed by Jim Bolger’s Bold Approach.
Other high-profile entries include G2 winner Vintager (Simon & Ed Crisford), dual G3 scorer Extra Elusive (Roger Charlton) and progressive turf performer West End Charmer (Mark Johnston).
In addition to being one of the highlights of the All-Weather Championships, the Betway Winter Derby is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the Betway Easter Classic at Lingfield Park on Finals Day, Good Friday, April 2.
There is scratchings deadline for the Betway Winter Derby at noon on Tuesday, February 2.