Tag Archive for: BetUK Winter Derby Stakes

Long-term absentee Eydon poised for Winter Derby comeback

Eydon will bid to honour his sire Olden Times when he makes his eagerly-awaited return from 665 days off the track in the BetUK Winter Derby at Southwell.

An impressive winner of the Feilden Stakes when trained by Roger Varian in 2022, he was last seen finishing fourth to Coroebus in that year’s 2000 Guineas, with an injury sustained in the build-up to the 2022 Derby the start of a plethora of issues that have kept him sidelined for almost two years.

Now in training with Andrew Balding, he sat out the whole of the 2023 season, but is reported to be in rude health following a recent racecourse gallop at Kempton and will be partnered for the first time by Kevin Stott when lining up in the Group Three event, which for the first time will be run over 11 furlongs.

“He went for a racecourse gallop the other day with Andrew and it seemed to go satisfactory,” said Ted Voute, racing adviser to Eydon’s owner Prince Faisal.

“His last run was in the Guineas when he was fourth. It will be some training feat to get him back and to the level of fitness required to run creditably after such a length of time off. But, touch wood, Andrew is pleased with him and thinks he will run a nice race.

“It’s a pretty even field and they are all rated around the same figures apart from Lord North and we will see.”

Connections will not only be hoping Eydon’s Rolleston appearance can book a trip to the Middle East for Dubai World Cup night next month, but also that the five-year-old can pay an on-course tribute to his sire, who died earlier this month at the age of 25.

Eydon was once a contender for the Derby
Eydon was once a contender for the Derby (John Walton/PA)

“He has an entry in Dubai (in the Sheema Classic), but that is rather far-fetched at the moment. He would have to beat Lord North or run very respectably against him, but we will see how we get on,” said Voute.

“We keep our fingers crossed and his owner has had incredible faith in him and patience which in this day and age is quite unusual.

“He loves the sire line and sadly Eydon’s father Olden Times passed away two weekends ago from old age. It would lovely if he could replace him somehow, but he’s got a lot to do before he does that.”

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Lord North setting the standard in Winter Derby

Lord North will be cramped odds as he attempts to go one better than last year’s second in the BetUK Winter Derby Stakes at Lingfield.

The seven-year-old has won eight times in an 18-race career, but had to settle for the runner-up berth behind Alenquer when sent off the 6-5 favourite 12 months ago.

The John and Thady Gosden-trained son of Dubawi used this Group Three contest to tune up for the Dubai Turf last season and his rider Robert Havlin has indicated that will be the plan once again – with the stable stalwart and former Royal Ascot winner reported to be showing plenty of zest in his work at home.

“We are happy with him at home,” said Havlin.

“It was a good stepping stone to start him off on the road to the Dubai Turf last year so we are taking the same route. Personally he feels a little bit brighter than he was this time last year, a little bit sharper in his mind, so we are hoping for a big run.

“I think I’ve ridden him seven times, won four on him and finished second twice so he’s a horse I know really well and I’ve ridden him his last few pieces of work and he’s in a good place.

Lord North ridden by James Doyle (right) wins the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020
Lord North ridden by James Doyle (right) wins the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020 (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’ll improve a lot for the run, but I just feel he is in nice form and that little bit further forward than he was last year so I can’t wait to ride him.”

The Clarehaven team have won this three times in the last four years and their three-strong squad for this years race also includes 2021 winner Forest Of Dean.

The Godolphin-owned seven-year-old had reopposing stablemate Harrovian (third) and William Knight’s King Of The South (fifth) behind when winning a Newcastle All-Weather Championships Fast-Track Qualifier last time and is the mount of South African jockey Collen Storey, who will be attempting to complete his ambition of winning a Group race in the UK.

He said: “Forest Of Dean is very well in himself. I sat on him again on Thursday morning and he had a bit of freshness in him. I actually think he has come on a bit from Newcastle.

“Rab rode him quite handy when they won the Winter Derby a couple of years ago, whereas at Newcastle I dropped him in and he flew when I pulled him out. It was impressive the way he quickened up.

“I won a stakes race in Zimbabwe on a filly called Raven Girl and have placed in a few other Stakes races as well. It is hard to get rides in these big races and I am very excited for this opportunity. With a bit of luck, hopefully we can pull it off.

“After I won on Forest Of Dean at Newcastle, I said my aim is to ride a Group winner over here. If I could tick that off, I would like to see what the year ahead is able to give me.”

Tyrrhenian Sea won three times on the all-weather last season and returns to 10 furlongs for the first time since finishing second in the Easter Classic at Newcastle last April.

“He’s in good form,” said trainer Roger Varian.

“Obviously Lord North is very much superior – not just of us, but all of the horses in the field on ratings and he will be a very hard horse to beat. But I think we measure up with the rest of the field on ratings and he deserves his place in the line-up.

“He’s training really well, his all-weather form is very good and we’re hopeful of a good run.”

Andrew Balding’s Fox Tales has plenty of back-class but has fitness to prove on his first start since August, while the field is complete by George Baker’s recent Bahrain hero Lucander and John Ryan’s Pistoletto.

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