TOMORROW’S action at Lingfield Park Racecourse is the richest day of racing run on the all-weather in Britain and the highlight, the Group Three Blue Square Bet Winter Derby (3.30pm), regularly attracts top-class horses from across the UK and Ireland.
PREMIO LOCO defied a penalty in this last year to win well under a fine ride from George Baker and the consistent nine-year-old can repeat the trick.
Chris Wall’s stable stalwart is a really likeable sort and boasts eight Group wins on his CV. He was as good as ever when landing this last term off a similar break and then proved his versatility by taking a Group Two at Goodwood over a mile, two furlongs shorter than tomorrow’s trip.
Strictly on the figures, Farraaj should have the beating of Premio Loco, and Roger Varian’s charge is currently the 2/1 favourite with the sponsors. But it was a fairly weak Listed contest he won back in November and he’s come up short in all three attempts in Group company. With that in mind, I’m happy to stick with the proven performer Premio Loco at 9/2 with Blue Square Bet.
Viking Storm was very progressive on turf at the back end of last season but is another who has to prove himself at this level. Ed Dunlop’s charge is also drawn wide. Robin Hood was run as a pacemaker by former trainer Aidan O’Brien in high-class affairs and he’s a real unknown quantity now with Philip Mitchell and primed to win rather than set up the race for more illustrious stalemates.
Earlier on the lavishly-endowed card, the speedy BEAR BEHIND can deservedly get his head in front in the Blue Square Bet Hever Sprint Stakes (2.20pm). Although Tom Dascombe’s horse has only one win to his name, he’s run some excellent races in defeat in Dubai recently and the stable had one go very close last week in a Listed race at Wolverhampton.
The Blue Square Bet Spring Cup (2.55pm) can go to champion jockey Richard Hughes aboard EMELL. This one looked ready for a step up in trip when last seen in a similar contest and trainer Richard Hannon has won three of the last five renewals.
BEAR BEHIND 2.20pm Lingfield (tomorrow)
EMELL 2.55pm Lingfield (tomorrow)
PREMIO LOCO 3.30pm Lingfield (tomorrow)