Lingfield Derby Trial:
Whilst Best Solution’s performance to finish eighth in last year’s Epsom Derby was a smart one, it stretched the winless run of Lingfield’s Derby Trial alumni to 20 years, when High-Rise caused a 20/1 surprise back in 1998.
Several of those entered for this year’s renewal hold entries at Chester this week, which means it become a tricky task to try and work out who will take their chance here on Saturday.
Aidan O’Brien generally has a runner in each of the Derby trials, and has three entries at the time of writing, with Kew Gardens, Nelson and Delano Roosevelt. However, the latter two look set to head to Leopardstown, whilst My Lord And Master, Ispolini, Dee Ex Bee, Proschema, Young Rascal and Kings Proctor have all been declared to run at Chester.
As a result, Kew Gardens is a good starting point, and the one to beat on Timeform ratings. He disappointed slightly when finishing third on his reappearance at Newmarket last month, but he was a useful performer at two, showing borderline smart form to win a listed contest at the end of last season, and he should be sharper for his first run back here.
Although O’Brien is due to have only one runner in this race, Coolmore could also be represented by the Richard Hannon-trained Department of War, who made a winning start at Nottingham last month. He faces a sharp step up in trip here, as do plenty in the field, but looked a useful prospect on debut and it’s likely that there’s more to come. The same can be said for Corelli, who impressed in a minor event at Yarmouth last time. He was heavily eased at the line that day, the winning margin being much smaller than it could perhaps have been, and it’s likely that there’s more to come from him, too.
Others of interest include Thrave, Knight To Behold and Star of Southwold, who all look open to improvement. Both Thrave and Knight To Behold looked useful prospects when opening their accounts towards the end of last season, though this would be a big ask for both on reappearance. Star of Southwold is another who got off the mark on his most recent start, causing a 28/1 surprise when pulling clear of the field at Newmarket last month, and deserves respect here. Another to consider is King And Empire, who appealed as a really good prospect himself when making a winning debut at Kempton in October, but this looks far tougher.
In summary, whilst the majority of those likely to run are open to plenty of improvement, Kew Gardens sets a strong standard, and should be sharper for his reappearance. He is likely to be far shorter than the 6/1 currently on offer as the field takes shape during the week.
Lingfield Oaks Trial:
The Oaks Trial at Lingfield is slightly more prolific in providing the winner of the showpiece, with three since 1992, whilst Look Here, runner-up back in 2008, also went on to triumph at Epsom.
This race is slightly easier to decode in terms of declarations, too, with only two of those prominent in calculations potentially heading elsewhere. Hazarfiya has been declared at Chester, whilst the Camelot filly Queen Iseult also holds an entry at Curragh on the same day as this race.
Like the Derby Trial, the field is packed full of unexposed types, and Aidan O’Brien once again looks to have the runner with the strongest form on offer through Flattering. She took a marked step forward from her debut last summer by scorching clear in spectacular fashion at Cork last Saturday. The nature of that win suggested that she is a filly to follow, and she is likely to make further strides in the coming weeks.
Plenty arrive here on the back of an encouraging performance, and Stream Song is one of those, looking like she’d suit more of an emphasis on stamina when winning on reappearance at Windsor last month. She has leading claims here for John Gosden – who won last year’s renewal with Hertford Dancer. Another trainer who enjoys plenty of success in this race is Ralph Beckett, and he looks to have a strong hand with Cecchini. She looked a useful prospect when winning on debut at Kempton in November, and it would be no surprise if she took a big step forward in this contest.
Lubinka looks more exposed than some of the others in the field, and could well find a few improve past her, despite the fact that she got off the mark here last month. One of those could be Perfect Clarity, who looked fairy useful when making a winning start at Nottingham last August. Lady Of Shalott is another unbeaten filly who deserves consideration after winning her sole start at Yarmouth in October, but it could be that Ejtyah improves past her. The Frankel filly got off the mark at Chelmsford in December and earned a large P for her efforts, suggesting that she is open to significant improvement.
In summary, Flattering sets a clear standard on the back of her impressive win at Cork last week, and will be tough to stop if she can back it up here. Stream Song and Cecchini look the two biggest dangers in an intriguing renewal full of unexposed sorts.
Kew Gardens to win Saturday’s Lingfield Derby Trial at 6/1
Flattering to win Saturday’s Lingfield Oaks Trial at 6/4