Cyrname clearly has the best form on offer, will attempt to make all and is the one to beat @ 8/13. The only possible doubt is if the big effort he produced when just touched off by Terrefort three weeks ago has left its mark physically. The Unit, held by two fair types in Shantou Rock and Willoughby Court on both chase starts, looks second best while For Good Measure may well get outpaced again but will be staying on at the finish and is probably in need of a real stamina test. He is one to keep an eye on.
A tough listed sprint to decipher with a number of runners out of form. Gracious John at his best would surely have too much for this field but both his starts since the turn of the year have been less than inspiring. The same can be said of last year’s winner Royal Birth though excuses can be made on both his starts in February, but he needs to show more to regain his crown and whether the race will be run to suit is debatable. Encore D’Or and Tomily also fall into the ‘capable of winning this race but have been below form recently’ category and could go well but the two to in-form horses, Karijini and Orvar may be the ones to concentrate on. The fairer sex have won this race twice in the last ten years so there is some hope for the improving filly Karjini who has not looked back since dropping to six furlongs in December. Now down to five furlongs she is interesting and with only Gracious John likely to set the fractions she can get across from stall seven, track the pace and given more improvement can be thereabouts @ 6/1. In typical fashion, Paul Midgeley can squeeze improvement out of Orvar and though he was a little lucky to defeat Atletico last time, there is no telling how much more there is to come from this son of Dandy Man and like Karjini, can track Gracious John and be on the premises @ 9/2.
Course and distance winner on both hurdle starts, Redicean, will attempt the hat-trick and looks to hold every chance @ 10/11. A ten length victor on both hurdle runs, better ground here may see him in an even better light and he should take the beating. Listed winner Malaya is a fair filly and will not be easy to pass while French raider Beau Gosse, also a listed winner, has to considered with a tongue-tie now applied. Two at prices worth a second look are Harmonise and Grand Sancy, both are open to improvement and could go well @ 18/1 and 14/1 respectively.
A severe test of stamina on heavy ground which often goes to a lightly raced individual and the four to shortlist look to be Vinnie Lewis, Back To The Thatch, Hainan and Baywing. Vinnie Lewis has improved no end since tackling staying trips on testing ground with his comfortable defeat of Shanroe Santos at Plumpton his best effort yet. This represents his toughest assignment but he has every right to be favourite @ 11/2. Hainan found the drop back in trip and the rise in class beyond him in the Peter Marsh but did rally and was staying on at the finish. This trip looks ideal and he should go well @ 9/1. Back To The Hatch was visually impressive last time at Chepstow and though this is a fair rise in class, with a little improvement he can be competitive @ 8/1 while Baywing is on a dangerous mark, does not have many miles on the clock for a nine year old and can go well @ 10/1 if his jumping holds up.
This features a number of ex-flat horses representing big yards not least Scarlet Dragon and Humphrey Bogart for trainers, Alan King and Nicky Henderson, who have both won this race three times in the last ten years with strong market moves for either significant. Mount Avaloirs went off too quickly in the Tolworth Hurdle before a mistake two out ruined his chance. If the hood relaxes Paul Nicholls’ five year old he has to be thereabouts @ 5/2. Potential improvers Destrier @ 9/1 and Michael’s Mount @ 7/1 have the right profile for this race and are big dangers to the favourite. Destrier has done everything asked of him so far and the Skelton team like him a lot while Michael’s Mount won nicely at Doncaster from Doux Pretender but did jump left that day, which is a slight cause for concern on this tight, right handed track. Global Citizen is another who won well last time and should come into calculations @ 9/1. Shoal Bay’s run behind Western Ryder, Lalor and Tolworth winner Summerville Boy at Cheltenham reads well and Colin Tizzard’s son of Gold Well looks a little overpriced @ 16/1.
A very competitive renewal of the Winter Derby with five or six of these capable of winning this. Half-sister to Derby winner Motivator and improving mare Clear Skies heads the market @ 9/4 for Aiden O’Brien and Ryan Moore. She won her last race easily, clearly has more to offer, should get a good position from stall one and can go close here, the one worry being course form as the tight turns of Lingfield are a different proposition to the long galloping straight at Dundalk. Sir Michael Stoute saddles two in last year’s winner Convey and Autocratic. Both are making their seasonal debut and should make bold bids presuming they are fully fit, with slight preference for Convey @ 15/2 due to his course form. Khalidi has produced some good efforts in behind the likes of Permian and Crystal Ocean and could prove the best of these in time though the ten furlongs around Lingfield could be on the sharp side, so unless Adam Kirby tries to force the issue, he may well be finishing strongly without having the pace to challenge. Utmost is the only obvious front runner and could be allowed to dictate. John Gosden’s four year old enjoyed the change of tactics last time over course and distance and if given free rein again could go close @ 6/1. Master The World should go well and has place claims while Mr Owen could still be capable of better and can run well @ 14/1.
Acting Lass, unbeaten over fences, steps up to three miles for the first time and with any amount of improvement still to come, is entitled to be 4/1 favourite especially after Minella Daddy and Fortunate George franked the form. Tintern Theatre looks the biggest threat @ 8/1 and can be forgiven his blunder in heavy ground at Haydock when tired. He travelled notably well until that point and back on a sounder surface, at a course he likes, should be thereabouts. Theatre Territory looks well treated and if the cheekpieces can help her turn the placed efforts into winning ones, could be a big price @ 12/1. Ballykan, fourth in this race last year, is now seven pounds lower and could figure @ 14/1, as could Theatre Guide @ 16/1 who has run well in this race for the last two years. Fellow elder statesman Josses Hill is starting to look well handicapped and if the blinkers work could be a danger @ 16/1. The Rooney pair of Go Conquer and Master Dee can go well but will need to produce serious performances to win this off their weights while Vibrato Valtat is still capable of a big run @ 33/1.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
Hainan – 2.45 Newcastle – 1pt win @ 9/1
Destrier – 3.00 Kempton – 1pt win @ 9/1
Michael’s Mount – 3.00 Kempton – 1pt win @ 7/1
Tintern Theatre – 3.35 Kempton – 1pt win @ 8/1