Bangkok entered for Winter Derby Trial defence

Last year’s winner Bangkok is one of eight entries in the Betway Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield on Saturday.

Three of the contenders – Felix, Bangkok and Forest Of Dean – all met recently at Wolverhampton.

Marco Botti’s Felix appeared to have plenty to find on the figures, but was delivered perfectly by Hollie Doyle to get up close home and deny Bangkok, with Forest Of Dean back in third.

That was Felix’s first run for 10 months, while the John Gosden-trained Forest Of Dean had been off for almost 500 days.

Botti has a big decision to make, however, after a phone call out of the blue on Sunday evening.

“We had been set on running here, then the Winter Derby and Finals Day, but last night he got invited out to Saudi Arabia,” said Botti.

“The race is over 10 furlongs on turf and worth £600,000, so it’s a big decision whether we run in one or the other or both. They are only two weeks apart, but the problem would be then getting him qualified for Finals Day as he’s only had the one run.

“It was pleasing to see him win at Wolverhampton as he beat some good horses, but we felt he’d come on for the run.

“He’s only lost once for us (at Wolverhampton last February) and we don’t know what happened there as he was last of six.

“He was trained by Luca (Cumani) and then Sir Michael (Stoute) and we are reaping the benefits of how he has been looked after.”

It was Bangkok’s second narrow defeat in a row having been touched off by Sangarius in the Quebec Stakes before Christmas and his trainer Andrew Balding could also run Johnny Drama, who was fifth in that race having won his previous four contests.

However, Saudi Arabia is also uppermost in Balding’s mind at this stage for Bangkok.

The trainer said: “Bangkok is a possible runner in the Winter Derby Trial, although we will not make a final decision until we have to declare on Thursday morning.

“The other option for him hinges on whether or not he gets an invite for the Saudi Cup meeting, which is still a possibility.

“Johnny Drama is entered for the trial as well and will probably run if Bangkok doesn’t.”

Ed Dunlop’s eight-year-old Red Verdon is a possible along with Simon and Ed Crisford’s Vintager.

The in-form Mark Johnston has two entries in Sky Defender and West End Charmer.

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