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    Lord North Returns for Season Opener in an Unconventional Setting
Lord North Returns for Season Opener in an Unconventional Setting
Image courtesy of Brisnet

Lord North Returns for Season Opener in an Unconventional Setting

Southwell becomes the new venue for the Winter Derby.

Lord North, owned by John and Thady Gosden, aims to defend his BetUK Winter Derby crown as he prepares himself for his customary journey to Dubai.

The Dubawi gelding clinched victory in the event last year, triumphing over Roger Varian's Tyrrhenian Sea by three and a quarter lengths. In the previous year, he finished second, trailing behind William Haggas' Alenquer.

This Group Three challenge serves as a warm-up for Lord North before his annual appearance at Meydan for the World Cup meeting in March, where he has secured victory in the Group One Dubai Turf for the past three years.

Having won the Dubai Turf by three-quarters of a length last year, Lord North has been absent from the track since then. His return marks a significant hiatus as he strives to reclaim his Winter Derby title at its new location - Southwell - and extended distance.

Thady Gosden, in charge of Robert Havlin's ride, remarked,

"He has excelled in this race, finishing first and second. It has proven to be an effective preparatory race for the Dubai Turf".

However, the alteration from a mile and a quarter at Lingfield to a mile and three furlongs at Southwell alters the race dynamics considerably.

Gosden's team will also field Godolphin's Forest Of Dean, ridden by Kieran O'Neill, who has been a consistent contender over the past three seasons. The eight-year-old secured victory in 2021 and finished fourth in 2020 and sixth in the previous year.

"Forest Of Dean is well-versed in all-weather conditions and has been in fine form at home,"

Gosden noted, pointing out the adjustments needed for the different track and distance.

The striking grey Tyrrhenian Sea will make another appearance, accompanied by Jane Chapple-Hyam's Claymore making his second all-weather start.

A notable participant is Eydon, now under the guidance of new trainer Andrew Balding. The five-year-old, victorious in the Listed Feilden Stakes in 2022 and a fourth-place finisher in the 2000 Guineas, had his Derby preparations disrupted by injury. Eydon, previously trained by Varian, will be ridden by Kevin Stott in his comeback.

"Andrew has been satisfied with Eydon's progress and was pleased with his performance at Kempton,"

stated Ted Voute, the racing manager for owner Prince Faisal.

"With a talented young jockey onboard, we anticipate an exciting race considering the evenly matched field, except for Lord North who stands out in terms of ratings". 

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