Get in black with Red Verdon


London – Red Verdon is the class act on show at Lingfield on Wednesday where he goes in the Betway Conditions Stakes.

The Ed Dunlop-trained five-year-old was most unlucky not to pick up a big prize in his three-year-old season, finishing sixth in the Derby at Epsom and fourth in the Irish equivalent, before being agonisingly denied on the line in the Grand Prix de Paris.

A setback unfortunately meant he missed the St Leger, and in truth last year never reached the heights of 2016. That said, he did finish the campaign with victory in a Listed event at Kempton and can hopefully go forward from there.

The late defection of the mare Mountain Bell certainly makes this appear a relatively straightforward task.

Poetic Imagination changed hands for 48 000 guineas at Tattersalls at the start of the month and offered an immediate return when third on her debut for Archie Watson.

The filly failed to strike in five starts for John Gosden, but certainly has a smidgen of ability and was good enough for third dropped back to 1000m on her first effort for Watson.

She did not look quite quick enough for the minimum trip, but stepped back up to 1200m and lining up off a mark of 74, she is not one to discount in the Handicap.

Warren Greatrex does not have that many Flat horses but Great Return has proved a nice money spinner for the yard since joining the team in December.

After three placed efforts, Great Return finally hit the target in the hands of the trainer’s son, Edward, when romping home by seven lengths at Wolverhampton last week.

The application of first-time cheekpieces clearly worked wonders that day and a swift return to Dunstall Park under a 3kg penalty looks a smart move, as the handicapper is sure to hike him a fair bit in the weights now.

Divine Spear is among the possibles for the JLT Chase as next month’s Festival and it is perhaps telling Nicky Henderson sends him on the long trip to Musselburgh for the 188Bet Mobile Novices’ Chase.

Henderson usually heads to the Edinburgh track in search of better ground and Divine Spear is a runner who appears to turn in his best efforts when conditions are not too deep.

He was seen to good effect on soft ground at Ascot before Christmas, producing an excellent round of jumping and looking for all the world a horse who will make his mark in good company eventually.

This could be a nice stepping stone on the way to Prestbury Park. – Press Association

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