Gitano Hernando warmed up for a crack at the Dubai World Cup at Meydan on March 27 with a convincing win in the Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield on Saturday.
The Marco Botti-trained colt, who developed into a top-class performer during 2009, quickened smartly under Kieren Fallon in the straight to see off long-time leader Suits Me.
Stan James (from 12) and Paddy Power (from 10) reacted by trimming the Team Valor-owned Gitano Hernando to 8-1 for the Dubai World Cup and Fallon was impressed by the four-year-old’s display.
“It was very smooth,” he said. “He’s better than them and I thought on the home turn he’d win nicely. He’s a very good horse and is improving all the time.”
Among Gitano Hernando’s seven rivals was stablemate Mesa Marauder, whose principal task was ensuring a decent gallop to the Listed contest.
However, with Suits Me in the line up, a dawdling pace was an unlikely scenario.
Suits Me, who is trained by Tom Tate and was second in the race last year, was sent straight to the front by Darryll Holland. He was tracked in second by Yahrab, relegating Mesa Marauder to third and a limited role.
Gitano Hernando, meanwhile, was held up by Fallon as the leaders set such a gallop the track record was only missed by 0.34 seconds.
Entering the straight, Gitano Hernando, the 1-2 favourite, found the gaps and put the race to bed in a matter of strides.
Suits Me (3-1) clung on for second, while Mister Green ran on for third.
Botti, who landed his first top-level success courtesy of Gitano Hernando’s win in the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita in October, said: “I was delighted he won in the style he did. It’snice to see him back.
“He was only 80 per cent fit today and I expect him to come on. They went a nice, even pace and he picked up nicely.”
The Newmarket-based trainer also revealed Gitano Hernando would fly out to Dubai in the week of World Cup night, a method that proved fruitful in the lead up to his Santa Anita victory.
Source: Team Valor Headline News