Tryster’s initial claim to fame was to win the first ever Chelmsford City race in January when the old Great Leighs track reopened and he almost made a hash of it, jinking alarmingly before scrambling home by a nostril.
But so much has he progressed in the meantime he is now potentially one of the best horses ever to run on an artificial surface in the UK and the star attraction at Friday afternoon’s All-Weather Championships at Lingfield.
He also spearheads Godolphin’s multipronged assault on the all-weather’s big day in the spotlight, a seven-race card offering total prize-money of £1.1m, along with terrestrial TV’s seal of approval.
Godolphin’s powerful presence on Friday is significant, for them as well as the status of the meeting, as they move on from difficult times.
Normally, most of the best of their massive squad would either have been in Meydan for the Dubai Carnival or resting up for the turf season during the winter. But last autumn Godolphin’s management team decided to leave a large contingent in Newmarket with their trainers, Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor, for a concentrated all-weather campaign.
The results have been quite spectacular: Appleby, promoted from the ranks in 2013 following the Mahmood al-Zarooni steroid scandal, has sent out a record number of winter winners at an extremely healthy strike rate and Friday looks forward to a large dollop of icing on the cake.
Since his Chelmsford win Tryster (3.45 Lingfield) has completed a four-timer, really coming of age when beating the smart Grendisar in a Group Three contest over Friday’s course and distance last month, and there may well be even more improvement to come. Appleby is confident, but warns that Tryster is best when covered up until the last moment, so he might need a bit of luck in running.
Pretend (2.10) is another Appleby-trained four-year-old who has found his feet properly in recent weeks. An impressive change of gear enabled him to beat Alben Star, last year’s shock winner of this contest, over five furlongs last time and he is equally effective over six. This is, though, a more open race than the betting suggests and the tough and consistent Glen Moss is an appealing each-way alternative at around 16-1.
It is a little more complicated in the first of the Mile championships with Godolphin fielding three of the seven runners, but Appleby is particularly sweet on Emirates Skycargo (2.40), a three-year-old he reports has made visible physical progress since being gelded before his easy Chelmsford win last month.
The best bet of the day, however, does not run in Godolphin’s blue, but in the black-and-white hoops of Lady O’Reilly.
Sovereign Debt (3.15) was good enough to finish runner-up in the Group One Lockinge Stakes in 2013 when trained by Michael Bell and, after missing the whole of last season, has returned in the care of David Nicholls seemingly as good as ever.
The Aga Khan’s Ervedya was cut to 10-1 for next month’s 1,000 Guineas after a taking display in the Prix Imprudence at Maisons-Laffitte under Christophe Soumillon yesterday. In the colts’ trial, the Prix Djebel, the Freddy Head-trained Ride Like The Wind mastered André Fabre’s hitherto unbeaten Make Believe by a head.
Lingfield and Musselburgh are live on Channel 4 Racing on Friday