Wissahickon, a Tapit half-brother to Spring Valley sire Just As Well, continued his domination of the middle-distance category of this season’s All-Weather Championships with an impressive victory in the £100,000 Gr3 Betway Winter Derby on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on Saturday.
The four-year-old Tapit colt gained a third straight win over 10 furlongs at Lingfield Park when very readily beating Court House by three and a quarter lengths, adding to his Listed successes in the Betway Quebec Stakes and Betway Winter Derby Trial.
Wissahickon (1/4 favourite), trained by John Gosden in Newmarket, was held in fourth of the seven runners by Frankie Dettori behind stable companion Court House (14/1, William Buick), Big Country (10/1, Michael Appleby/Luke Morris) and early leader Hathal (8/1, Jamie Osborne/Adam Kirby).
He quickened around runners turning for home and went to the front from Court House entering the straight before forging clear to score easily in a fast time of 2m 1.28s.
Court House kept on for second ahead of 40/1 outsider Pactolus (Stuart Williams/Callum Rodriguez), who ran on from the rear to snatch third from Big Country, another three and a half lengths back.
It was a second Fast-Track Qualifier victory for Wissahickon, who had already guaranteed his free place in the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same course and distance on Good Friday, April 19, by winning the Betway Winter Derby Trial on February 2.
Gosden, recording a first Betway Winter Derby win, said: “Normally, we don’t run that many on the All-Weather but, after Wissahickon won the Cambridgeshire, Mr Strawbridge (owner/breeder George Strawbridge) was keen to stay here and go for the Winter Derby, and the plan has come off.
“Obviously, there is big race here on Good Friday and we will see whether we freshen him up and wait for that, which would be the logical thing to do.
“There is some talk about World Cup Night out in Dubai, but I will have to speak to Frankie, who always has a very strong opinion!
“We might look at the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic, if there was an invitation to run in the race. I think he is a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half horse – the mother stayed and he switches off in his races now, while quick, summer ground would be his game.
“We rode him wrong once on the July Course, but every other time Rab (Havlin) or Frankie have ridden him and he is a horse with a great turn of foot.
“He enjoys good to firm turf and the surface here, being by Tapit, and is out of a really good mare No Matter What, one of Mr Strawbridge’s best mares who has produced endless black type horses. I am sure he is watching from America and is absolutely thrilled.
“I think there is a chance that Wissahickon could be racing in America next year or the back end of this season as there are a couple of nice races for him. I don’t know whether he would be suited to dirt racing, which is a little different to this surface.
“He could well be going over there but, right now, I think Mr Strawbridge would like to come over and see him race here again.
“He used to be a typical Tapit – always on it, wanting to go, go, go and type of horse that probably didn’t want to listen or knew the word relax. But he has learned to switch off now and is a pretty chilled customer with a good turn of foot.
“Court House, who stays well and has won over a mile and a half here, so that was short enough for him and he has run a lovely race. We will also have a look at Good Friday for him.”
Frankie Dettori commented: “Wissahickon is getting better with every run and I am delighted with the way he relaxes now.
“He did exactly what he did last time – he ran to his rating and is a horse who is getting better and better with confidence.
“He plays with his mouth going down. It probably looks worse than it is and, now that I know him, I let him play with his head and eventually he comes back to you.
“I guess I was half asleep last time – I was trying to go for an inside rail run – but I kept it simple today, had a nice and smooth run, and won well.
“John is half toying with the idea that Wissahickon might go out to Dubai.”