Sam Hoskins, racing manager to owners Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, reports dual Group Two winner Tullius (Andrew Balding/Jimmy Fortune) to be in top condition ahead of today’s Group Three Coral Winter Derby (3.20pm) at Lingfield Park.
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.
The eight-year-old, who is trained by Andrew Balding at Kingsclere, is making his first appearance of 2016.
The highlight of his 2015 campaign was victory in the Group Two Sky Bet York Stakes over an extended 10 furlongs on turf at York, while the horse was also successful at the same level impressively in the bet365 Mile at Sandown Park in 2014.
The son of Le Vie Dei Colori stepped up to 10 furlongs in 2015 and did best later in the year with his York success followed by a seventh and sixth in Group One events. Top-rated on official ratings for the Coral Winter Derby, he is priced at 6/1 by the sponsor.
Hoskins said yesterday: “I saw Tullius this morning and he looks really well. 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 tomorrow. 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 tomorrow. If he doesn’t win today, we would probably look at a Group Three race in France for him.”