The William Haggas-trained Mutakayyef brings elite turf form to his all-weather debut in Saturday’s Group 3 Winter Derby and could well prove to be a class above his opposition.
Mutakayyef has never been outside the first three in his career and has won three from 14 starts on the turf having been campaigned at the highest level. He enjoyed a fruitful summer campaign having won a Listed race at York and then the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot. The son of Sea The Stars then stepped up to Group 1 level finishing third behind Postponed in York’s Juddmonte International and third to Tepin in the Woodbine Mile in Canada. The six-year-old is still improving and although he has to give five pounds to hardened all-weather campaigners on Saturday night, he’s still technically four pounds well in at the weights as he’s officially rated 120 which is nine pounds higher than Convey and 12 clear of Battalion and Grendisar.
With all-weather gallops at home in Newmarket, the first run on the surface shouldn’t be a problem for Mutakayyef and the Winter Derby will be his prep race for Dubai’s World Cup Night. The six-year-old adds real class to this Group 3 and will be a worthy short-priced favourite. In opposition will be two stars of the all-weather in Grendisar and Battalion. The latter is well known to William Haggas having been with his stable before moving to Jamie Osborne this winter and has been in brilliant form over this track and distance winning twice and then third in the Winter Derby Trial earlier this month. The seven-year-old didn’t get a clear run there behind the 113-rated winner Decorated Knight but probably is just short of this level and faces a strong opponent in Mutakayyef. Grendisar finished one place further back in that race and once again showed that this former all-weather champion is racing below his best this season. The seven-year-old won this race last year but considering his build-up this campaign will once again go off too short and should be opposed.
Sir Michael Stoute has entered Convey who will be having his first run on the all-weather since making a winning debut at Kempton in 2014. Now rated 111 the five-year-old was just touched off in the Group 3 Doom Bar Supreme Stakes at Goodwood before a close third in Haydock’s Group 3 Superior Mile and then a disappointing fifth at Listed level at Redcar. Convey does have a high head carriage and has only won once since his debut, lacking a turn of foot at the business end. His form is also best over a mile and this will be his first try over the 2000 metres and may not be suited by a course where acceleration late on is a key.
The Winter Derby is live on Sky Racing 1 on Saturday night.