Frankie Dettori believes Wissahickon should have more than enough class to give away weight to his rivals in the Betway Winter Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield.
Having claimed last year’s Cambridgeshire on the John Gosden-trained four-year-old, Dettori will make his first appearance on a racetrack in Britain in 2019 when partnering the son of Tapit in Saturday’s mile-and-a-quarter Listed event.
The George Strawbridge-owned colt will have to concede 3lb to all eight of his rivals after claiming a course-and-distance success at the same level under Robert Havlin – who will be aboard stablemate Court House – last time out.
Dettori said: “I sat on him on Wednesday morning. It was only few days before the race – and we did the usual routine work, nothing too special.
“I’m looking forward to getting back riding him, because it will be the first time I’ve ridden him on track since the Cambridgeshire.
“He looks an improving horse, and who knows where he will end up. He is rated 117 now, so he has not got many options.
“His handicap days are out of the window, and the Winter Derby Trial looks a good spot for him. He has got to give weight away, but he is an exciting horse.
“I didn’t expect to be back riding in Britain until March. But you have got to start somewhere, and he is a nice horse to come back for and start on.
“I’ve won on him at Chelmsford, and he doesn’t mind an artificial surface. He seemed to like it at Lingfield last time, so we will see how we get on.”
David Elsworth’s Royal Ascot winner Dash Of Spice is a non-runner, taken out after declarations, laving his trainer to rely on new recruit Main Street.
Elsworth said: “I got Main Street off John Gosden, where he had been running to a high level. We’ve cut (gelded) him. He will benefit for the race, but I think starting off over a mile and a quarter around Lingfield is ideal.
Mick Appleby reports Big Country in good order for his bid to turn the tables on Wissahickon, having chased him home on his last start.
Appleby said: “He’s all set to go. It looks like it’s going to be a tough race – it looks like it’s going to be as good as what the Winter Derby will be.
“I think he would have got a lot closer (to Wissahickon) last time if he hadn’t have hung off the bend. Hopefully he doesn’t do that again.”
The field is completed by Abe Lincoln (Jeremy Noseda), Chiefofchiefs (Charlie Fellowes), Time To Study (Ian Wiliams) and French raider In The Lope from the yard of Pia Brandt.
The latter has experience of Lingfield, having been fourth in the Churchill Stakes of 2017.
Brandt said: “In The Lope seems better than ever at the moment. He had top-weight at Deauville last time, and did it very nicely.
“He has showed in the past that he can handle Lingfield, and I think he is a better horse now than when he last ran there.
“Wissahickon should be hard to beat, but after that I think we have a fair chance of being up close behind him.
“The aim for In The Lope is (All-Weather) Finals Day – and if all goes well on Saturday, he will come back for the Winter Derby. These three Lingfield races are his main targets for the winter season – then he will have a break.”