Mutakayyef headlines 19 acceptors for the £100,000 Group 3 Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield Park on Saturday 25th February.
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 14th April, with the winner gaining a free and guaranteed place in the latter contest.
Mutakayyef (William Haggas) is top-rated with a mark of 116 after an excellent 2016 campaign on turf. The six-year-old captured the G2 Summer Mile at Ascot in July before finishing third in both the G1 Juddmonte International at York and Canada’s G1 Woodbine Mile.
Decorated Knight (Roger Charlton) is the favourite with Betway (correct as of 8th February) after denying Arab Spring (Sir Michael Stoute) by a short-head when making his All-Weather debut in the Listed Betway Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield Park on 4th February. They were followed home by Battalion (Jamie Osborne), Grendisar (Marco Botti) and Mythical Madness (David O’Meara) who may all reoppose.
2016 All-Weather Horse Of The Year Grendisar won the Winter Derby impressively last year before taking the Easter Classic on Good Friday, but is yet to replicate those performances this winter.
The one Irish-trained acceptor in the Betway Winter Derby is Pique Sous for Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins.
Pique Sous captured the 2014 Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot, but injury has restricted him to just two starts since, the most recent of which came when seventh in the Ascot Handicap in June.
Steve Massey, racing manager for Supreme Racing Club, owners of Pique Sous, said: “Pique Sous is back in full work. He is entered at Dundalk on Friday and is an intended runner at the moment.
“He has had a couple of niggles, nothing serious. We are happy with him now and it is great to have him back. He owes us nothing after his Royal Ascot win, although we feel there are a few big races left in him as he has very low mileage for a 10-year-old.
“He has got plenty of speed which he showed in bumpers. You need speed to win bumpers in Ireland, especially under a penalty.
“The Winter Derby is a big race and probably a big ask given the quality of the some of the other entries. He certainly warrants an entry and whether he runs we will leave that to Willie.
“We are hoping to get three runs into him so that he is qualified for the Marathon final on Good Friday.”
Pique Sous has triumphed in eight of his 19 races, including his one start on the All-Weather, a Dundalk 2-mile maiden which he won easily in February, 2013. The Dundalk contest he is entered in is the ASM Chartered Accountants Race over two miles.
Other notable acceptors for the Betway Winter Derby include Convey (Sir Michael Stoute), who was placed three times at G3 level on turf in 2016, last year’s G3 Italian 2000 Guineas scorer Poeta Diletto (Marco Botti) and progressive filly Absolute Blast (Iain Jardine).