Lingfield: Convey gives Stoute a first Winter Derby

Convey gives Stoute a first Winter Derby By David BAXTER 3:34PM 25 FEB 2017

Report: Lingfield, Saturday

Betway Winter Derby Stakes (Group 3) 1m2f, 4yo+

WHEN the news broke on Saturday morning that hot favourite Mutakayyef had been ruled out, the Winter Derby lost one of its leading lights, but it still produced a fantastic finish as Convey edged out Pinzolo and Absolute Blast.

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Although not quite boasting form to match Mutakayyef, Convey did hold the next highest official rating with a mark of 111, and that class came to the fore in a tight conclusion.

The five-year-old had been gelded since his previous start in October and was also trying the 1m2f trip for the first time.

With a lack of front-runners, several had chances spread across the track, including last year's winner Grendisar, but Andrea Atzeni came with a late sweep on the outside on Convey to win by a neck, giving trainer Sir Michael Stoute a first win in the race and a first in 2017.

"I wasn't sure he'd get the trip but Sir Michael was pretty positive he would," Atzeni said. "It worked out perfectly from a bad draw, he travelled smoothly and saw the trip out well. He's always had ability and could be a decent horse for the summer as well."

The Coral Easter Classic on Good Friday could be a target for Convey, and the sponsors were most impressed, making him their 5-2 favourite (from 12), although he can still be backed at 7-1.

Tom Marquand was aboard one of the few in the field happy to make the running, and the gallant Pinzolo nearly managed to make all for Ismail Mohammed.

The six-year-old has won three times at the track over 1m4f, and was just unable to match the winner's late thrust. Mohammed said: "He likes to go further than that but has run very well."

An all-weather success story

There was also plenty of smiles surrounding the third, Absolute Blast, who has been one of this winter's all-weather success stories.

Formerly with Iain Jardine, the mare was having her first start for Archie Watson, saddling his first runner in a Group race.

Having started at Newcastle in a Class 5 handicap in December, the five-year-old has improved two stone in the handicap to a mark of 100, and showed she still has more to offer.

Watson said: "She's Group-placed now so will always have her paddock value. I've got to talk to the owners, but I wouldn't mind taking on anything again that we've run against today on Good Friday."

The Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained Solar Deity lost his action when in touch in midfield and was pulled up by Stevie Donohoe with an injury that sadly proved fatal.

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