Marco Botti-trained Grendisar was victorious in the Newmarket-dominated £100,000 Group Three Coral Winter Derby at Lingfield Park last Saturday.
The six-year-old, who finished runner-up to Tryster in the same race 12 months ago, outclassed his seven rivals on the All-Weather under the guidance of jockey Adam Kirby.
Settled at the back of the field in the early stages by Kirby, the Irish horse was asked to surge forward inside the final furlong and he responded to win by a length and a quarter to seal a spot in the £200,000 Good Friday feature over the same course and distance on March 25.
The victorious time was clocked at 2m 1.05s, which is just six 100ths of a second outside of the Surrey course’s all-time record.
“I am really delighted that everything went to plan with Grendisar. I thought the pace was nice and even all of the way and Adam got the rights splits,” said Snailwell Road-based Botti.
“Adam thinks that he is improving and he ran to the line today. This is one of the races that I wanted to win and we had the confidence coming in. To win the Winter Derby is fantastic.
“He loves the All-Weather and he loves Lingfield. He was a bit unlucky in this race last year and deserved the victory today. It’s great for the owner (Mohamed Albousi Alghufli) .
“We always thought that Grendisar has tons of ability. He travels so well and has a turn of foot. He just needs the gap at the right time.”
It was to be a clean sweep of the top three places for Newmarket, thanks to trainer John Gosden’s duo of Maverick Wave and Furia Cruzada, who claimed second and third.
“Furia Cruzada has come from off the pace, had to wait for a run but got a nice run through in the end. I couldn’t be more pleased with her,” commented Gosden.
“Maverick Wave won the Huxley Stakes at Chester last year and he is a grand old horse. It is nice to see him come back. He lost his form towards the end of last year.”
n Meanwhile, former Newmarket trainer Neil King celebrated the biggest win of his career at Fontwell on Sunday.
Five-year-old Lil Rockerfeller came out on top of the National Spirit Hurdle and may now be entered into either the Ryanair World Hurdle or Coral Cup at this month’s Cheltenham Festival.
King was based in Newmarket for 12 years, but now works in Wiltshire.