Grendisar leads Winter Derby entry
Last year's winner Grendisar and the Group One-placed Mutakayyef are two of the 26 entries for the £100,000 Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield on February 25.
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, April 14.
Trained by Marco Botti, Grendisar won both races in 2016 – after which he was crowned All-Weather Horse Of The Year – and is bidding to become the first dual winner of the Winter Derby.
Newmarket-based Botti has also entered Poeta Diletto, successful in last season's Italian 2000 Guineas, Kyllachy Gala, who has also come from Italy, and Brex Drago, who was third on his debut for the stable in a 10-furlong turf handicap at Meydan.
The William Haggas-trained Mutakayyef is an eyecatching possible and heads the ante-post market with the sponsors. The six-year-old son of Sea The Stars captured the Group Two Summer Mile at Ascot in July before finishing third in both the Juddmonte International at York and the Woodbine Mile in Canada.
Decorated Knight is another on the up after winning two of his three starts since joining Roger Charlton, latterly running out the decisive two-length victor of the Meld Stakes at Leopardstown in July.
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Godolphin took the spoils with Tryster in 2015 and may rely on Saeed bin Suroor's Team Talk this time around. The four-year-old son of Teofilo defied his inexperience in the Listed Churchill Stakes – his third career start – over the course and distance in November, swooping down the outside to win by half a length.
Iain Jardine's Absolute Blast could be a dark horse after two impressive displays in handicaps.
Formerly trained in France and thought good enough to contest the 2015 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), the Kodiac mare was just touched off on her debut for new connections in a Newcastle handicap last month, before winning at Wolverhampton and Kempton.
Jardine, based at Carrutherstown near Dumfries, said: "Absolute Blast has come out of Kempton fine and will have an entry next Tuesday in the 86-105 fillies' handicap at Wolverhampton.
"We always knew she was nice and the biggest surprise we had with her was when she was beaten off 72 at Newcastle! That was a shock, but it is great she has followed up with two really good performances.
"She is not a definite runner in the Winter Derby at this stage, but it is certainly an option as we move down the line. She is a talented horse and I think she is entitled to have an entry, especially given her rating now.
"We won't be going there with her unless we feel we have a live chance.
"I don't think stepping up in trip is going to be any problem at all. You can switch her off anywhere in a race and it wouldn't surprise me if she ended up staying a mile and a half. That's what I have always thought."
Other notable entries include the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Arab Spring and stablemate Convey, and Jamie Osborne's Battalion, who is unbeaten in two starts for the Lambourn trainer.
There are two possible runners from Ireland, courtesy of Jim Bolger's Sanus Per Aquam and the 10-year-old Pique Sous, who has been lightly-raced by Willie Mullins since capturing the 2014 Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot.
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