Home Horse Racing Clear Skies ready for Winter Derby test
Clear Skies ready for Winter Derby test

Clear Skies ready for Winter Derby test


The combination of Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore isn’t necessarily one we’d expect to be relying on this close to Cheltenham but they’ve got strong claims in Saturday’s Winter Derby at Lingfield.

The deadly duo of Moore and O’Brien are lethal together with a 29 per-cent strike rate. This, however, will be the Ballydoyle supremo’s first runner at Lingfield Park.

Clear Skies has progressed in fairly rapid fashion this season over in Ireland on the all-weather at Dundalk, with her only defeat in the last six starts coming when she was stepped up to two-miles.

The daughter of Sea The Stars has got an ideal draw here for Moore to plot his course around a track where he boasts a 30 per-cent per win-rate and she looks a solid bet at 11/4 to oblige. Convey won this race last year, while he had Moore on board when following up in the Easter Classic here, but he deserts Sir Michael Stoute’s runner now.

With the fillies’ allowance to assist her, Clear Skies will be hard to stop in the famous JP McManus silks – something we should get used to see coming towards Cheltenham!

Up at Newcastle, 5/1 chance Vinnie Lewis looks the one to side with in the Eider Handicap Chase (14:45) over a marathon four-mile trip.

Harry Whittington’s charge jumped his rivals ragged when winning the Sussex National at Plumpton in January and didn’t appear to be stopping at the end of his 3m4f journey. He looks capable of further progress and should run a big race on ground that will suit.

Later on the card at Gosforth Park the booking of champion jockey Richard Johnson looks significant on board ACDC in the 2m4f handicap chase at 16:30.

The eight-year-old is unpenalised for last month’s win at Kelso and has scope for an improved performance now. With the champ booked, he’s expected to follow up at a price of 7/2.

There is a quality card on Saturday afternoon to be enjoyed at Kempton and trainer Harry Fry will be hoping to see Acting Lass maintain his winning run in the Betdaq Handicap Chase (15:35).

He’s a perfect three-from-three since switching to this sphere and arguably could have won by more last month at Ascot. Regardless, he’s got scope to carry on improving and looks more than capable of defying a 6lb hike now.

The only question mark surrounds the step up to three-miles but, assuming he handles that, Acting Lass and Noel Fehily should prove very hard to stop at odds of 10/3.

Over at Fairyhouse, Drumacoo can get his first success since returning to Michael Hourigan by landing the Tommy Carberry Handicap Hurdle (14:55) in the hands of Robbie Power.

The nine-year-old has returned to this trainer from Ben Pauling and looked set to score at Fairyhouse over fences earlier this month only to jump the last slowly and finish second. He gets to run over hurdles now from a 7lb lower mark and has some useful form in this sphere from his novice days with Hourigan.

At 9/2 he can have the edge over last-time-out C&D winner Out Of The Loop, who must contend with a 9lb ratings hike here.

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Enda McElhinney Our racing expert, Enda studies cards in both England and Ireland on a daily basis and knows all the details you need to know when trying to select a winner. He is also a regular football writer and has strong knowledge of the Scottish game, with golf another specialised sport on his CV.