Wissahickon sets lofty standard in Winter Derby field

Gosden’s Cambridgeshire winner keeps improving

  • Friday 22 February
  • News
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John Gosden hopes Wissahickon can consolidate his marked improvement by lifting the Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield.

The four-year-old colt has won seven of his nine career starts, with the last four on the bounce and looking very much on an upward curve.

Wissahickon took the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket on turf in September, and has since brushed aside the opposition in two Listed races over this course and distance.

“He’s been progressive, and he won nicely there three weeks ago. I hope he can repeat that,” said Gosden.

The Newmarket trainer also saddles Court House on Saturday, third behind his stable companion in the Winter Derby Trial.

He said: “It’s sharp enough for him, a mile and a quarter, but there’s only seven runners.

“It’s a valuable race, so we’re going for it.”

Hathal has won his last two races in fine style and is expected to make his presence felt, although his trainer Jamie Osborne is fearful of Wissahickon.

“Obviously the favourite is going to be tough to beat, on all known form,” said Osborne.

“This horse has really taken to these all-weather surfaces well, and I think he put up one of his lifetime bests last time.

“The trip isn’t a problem. I’m surprised he isn’t second-favourite, because he comes into it in great form.

“If you took the favourite out I’d be excited about this run. You can’t run away from one.

“The horse is in a rich vein of form at the moment, and there’s no reason to think that has changed.”

Charlie Fellowes sees this race as a stepping stone to the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster next month for Chiefofchiefs, who was fourth in the Winter Derby Trial three weeks ago.

“It’s a very strong race. My fella is in great form. He ran a massive race last time, and we’ve got a cracking draw again (two),” said Fellowes.

“Realistically, we need Wissahickon to have a real off day for him to get beaten. I think the rest of us are going to get placed if we can.

“Our main aim is the Lincoln. This is a nice step to get a run into him, and then there’s five weeks to the Lincoln.

“It’s also his third run on the all-weather, so he’ll qualify for any of the races on Good Friday if we decide we want to go there as well.”

The Mick Appleby-trained Big Country has had the misfortune to finish second to Wissahickon twice this winter.

“He’s got it all to do to reverse the form with the horse of Mr Gosden’s horse – but he’s in good form, and Mick feels he has come on for his last start,” his rider Luke Morris told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s going to need to. It’s a similar field to the trial, so tactically the race is going to play out similar. We just need to hope for a better luck – and fingers crossed Wissahickon is not on a going day.”

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