George Baker considering entering in-form Lucander for the Winter Derby
The six-year-old was formerly trained by Ralph Beckett and on changing stables was sent to spearhead Baker's team of runners targeting valuable contests in Bahrain over the winter months. His debut in the desert was a winning one as he took the Al Muharraq Cup in early December and last Friday he capped his stay in warmer climes with another success, this time in the Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa Cup - a local Group Two. The gelding is now in the checking-in stage of his journey home, and if all is well after his flight he will be headed to Lingfield on Saturday to contest the Group Three Winter Derby. "He will BE jumping on an aeroplane from Bahrain in a few hours' time, he won the big race over there on Friday and he seems very fresh and bouncy afterwards," Baker said on Monday afternoon. "Assuming all is well with him when he gets off the plane and gets back to us tomorrow afternoon, we'll have a long hard look at Saturday's race because when a horse is in good form you want to strike again. "He'll probably have a break after this, so if all is well we will hope to swing the bat on Saturday and then give him a bit of break after his time away ahead of some mid-summer targets." Lucander ran three times on the all-weather for Beckett, never winning but placing on each occasion and doing plenty to suggest the surface will be to his liking. Baker said: "He hasn't run on the all-weather for us, we're still finding out about this horse but what we do know is that he is in great form. It's probably a massive ask on Saturday but we thought it was a big ask last Friday. "He'll only run if we're very happy with him on Wednesday and Thursday, but the indications are that he's come out of Friday's race really well and he's got some decent form on the all-weather. "With a horse that's in good order, why not give it a go?" Also entered in the race are the John and Thady Gosden trio of Harrovian, Lord North and Forest Of Dean. The latter two horses bring specific race form to the table, with Lord North second in the race behind Alenquer last season and Forest Of Dean the winner in 2021. Roger Varian's striking grey Tyrrhenian Sea is another to stand his ground alongside Simon and Ed Crisford's Winter Oaks heroine Al Agaila, Andrew Balding's Foxes Tales, William Knight's King Of The South and John Ryan's Pistoletto.
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