By Simon Jackson.
Lingfield Park stages a six-race card on Saturday which features the £100,000 Coral Winter Derby where dual Group 2 winner Tullius makes a rare appearance on the all-weather.
The eight-year-old, a winner of 10 of his 32 starts and over £434,000 in prizemoney, won two of his four races at Lingfield in 2010, but since then has raced only once on an artificial surface when well-beaten at Kempton Park in November 2013.
The Andrew Balding-trained gelding was often campaigned at the top level last season. The profitable campaign included victories in a Listed race at Doncaster and a Group 2 at York.
His last two runs in 2015 were at Group 1 level where he finished seventh in the QIPCO Champion Stakes in October and rounded off the campaign when sixth in the Premio Roma GBI Racing in Italy the next month.
“I saw Tullius this morning and he looks really well. Sam Hoskins, racing manager to Tullius’s owners, Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, said on Friday.
“He does have a five pound penalty to carry tomorrow for his win at York last year but has been flying at home.
“The horse runs well fresh and is in A1 nick, so he can hopefully run a nice race on Saturday. The question marks are that he is having his first run on the all-weather for a while and is carrying a penalty.
“He has a nice draw in stall two. He should run well and, while it will be a hell of a performance if he can win, we would be delighted if he was to finish in the first four.
“Obviously, the Winter Derby is a big prize in itself and is also a Fast-Track Qualifier for the Coral Easter Classic, which he would be definitely be aimed at if he won. If he doesn’t win, we would probably look at a Group 3 race in France for him.
“His last run on all-weather was at Kempton at the end of his five-year-old career. He didn’t run great that day but won twice as a two-year-old at Lingfield Park and the surface should be fine for him.”
The £100,000 10-furlong Polytrack contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier for the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic over the same distance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 25.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.