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Thursday, February 22, 2007


Epsom Derby hero Sir Percy is among a terrific 40-strong entry for the £100,000 Group Three Winter Derby, run over 10 furlongs at Lingfield Park on Saturday, March 24.

The four-year-old, second to George Washington in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on his first run of last season, provided trainer Marcus Tregoning with his first British Classic when edging out Dragon Dancer at Epsom under an inspired ride from Martin Dwyer.

Another fascinating entry is the Mick Easterby-trained Gentleman’s Deal - unbeaten in six starts on all-weather tracks - who combines his racing with a flourishing career as a stallion.

He was last seen landing a mile Listed contest on the Polytrack at Kempton Park on February 4, comfortably defeating Grand Passion by a length and a half, with the likes of Party Boss and Red Spell further back.

Other interesting contenders include the Alan Swinbank-trained Alfie Flits, who progressed from the National Hunt bumper scene to win three times on the Flat in 2006, taking the extended 11-furlong Listed Serlby Stakes at Windsor on his final outing in November by five lengths.

The William Knight-trained Illustrious Blue showed rapid improvement last season, scoring five times in total, and looked to still be on the upgrade when successful in a valuable nine-furlong handicap at Nad Al Sheba, Dubai, on February 9.

Mighty, a three-times winner at Lingfield this year for Jane Chapple-Hyam, bids to defend his unbeaten Polytrack record in the £26,000 Listed Go Pontin’s Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield this Saturday, February 24, ahead of a crack at the Group Three feature a month later.

The three entries from Ireland in the Winter Derby are the Jim Bolger-trained Heliostatic, victorious in the Group Three Meld Stakes at Leopardstown last term, Galistic, trained by Pat Flynn, who rattled up a handicap hat-trick over middle distances in 2006, and Philip Rothwell’s Arturius, 12th in the lingfieldpark.co.uk Winter Derby last year.

France supplies two entries in the shape of Low Budget, a mile winner at Deauville in October for Jean-Luc Pelletan, and the Philippe Demercastel-trained Merlerault, who captured the first leg of the European All-Weather Series, the Listed Grand Prix de la Riviera Cote d’Azur at Cagnes-Sur-Mer on February 11.

He is chasing a bonus of €100,000 (Euros) if successful in all five races in the series or €10,000 (Euros) if winning three races in the series of which the Winter Derby forms the third leg.

Kate Hills, Head of Marketing and Public Relations at Arena Leisure, commented: “We are absolutely delighted with the entries for this year’s Winter Derby.

“The quality of the horses is the best we have ever had, with Epsom Derby hero Sir Percy a very welcome entry, and we look forward to a thrilling contest on Saturday, March 24.”

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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