We haven’t even enjoyed the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ or any of the Jumps season’s spring festivals yet. But this weekend’s Winter Derby is a timely reminder that the 2017 Flat campaign is just around the corner.
There were 11 runners left in at Monday’s declaration stage with the William Haggas-trained Mutakayyef heading the market.
He’ll have to concede 5lb all-round at Lingfield although the six-year-old is way ahead of his nearest rivals on ratings.
Indeed, the antepost favourite’s class is there for all to see and having come alive last season he’s sure to be a big player in the first Group contest of the year.
A Listed win at York was followed-up with victory in the Group 2 Summer Mile and creditable third-place finishes in the Juddmonte International and the Woodbine Mile.
And if matching that sort of form this son of Sea the Stars will be tough to beat on his return.
However, if you’re tempted to look elsewhere then the 2016 renewal winner Grendisar is one viable alternative.
Admittedly, the Marco Botti-trained charge has failed to spark in his three runs throughout the winter. But should the pace suit on this occasion then don’t be too surprised to see Adam Kirby strike once again.
Elsewhere, Battalion has finished in front of Grendisar on each of the pair’s last two meetings, landing the Quebec Stakes in the first of those encounters.
Not much more than two lengths has separated them in those clashes and it’s likely they’ll enjoy another close-fought battle.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Convey is another to watch out for on this first All-Weather start since winning on debut in October 2014.
A Listed winner on Turf, the five-year-old will be bidding to recapture that form in Surrey while the progressive mare Absolute Blast also merits respect following a solid winter campaign.
Her hat-trick bid was thwarted when slowly away at Wolverhampton last time out but the way she chased down the leader to grab second offers hope to her new trainer Archie Wilson.
Ladbrokes Latest Betting:
2017 Winter Derby
Mutakayyef – 6/5
Battalion – 4/1
Convey – 11/2
Grendisar – 6/1
Absolute Blast – 12/1
Click here for the latest Winter Derby odds
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing