'What a wonderful dress rehearsal' - Ambiente Friendly fires himself into Derby picture with Lingfield triumph

James Fanshawe looks to have discovered a live Epsom Derby contender after Ambiente Friendly cruised to victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial Stakes on Saturday.

Jockey - Callum Shepherd.
Jockey - Callum Shepherd.

A winner on his debut at two, he subsequently bumped into Ancient Wisdom in the Autumn Stakes before pulling too hard on his reappearance at Newmarket last month.

The step up to one mile three furlongs on a quicker surface posed a definite question mark heading into the race, but the Gredley-owned three-year-old appeared to relish both as Callum Shepherd found himself sitting motionless with just a couple of furlongs to travel.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained market leader Illinois, who cut out much of the early running, proved no match for the eventual winner and could only finish four and a half lengths behind in the silver medal position, with Meydaan a further three and a quarter lengths back in third

James Fanshawe's colt was cut from 100s to 8/1 by bookmakers Paddy Power on the back of that impressive performance.

"That was exceptional. I've been riding him in a lot of work at home," said Shepherd.

"He's been fitted with a ring bit and has become such a more manageable horse. My feet were on the dash frankly for nine furlongs at Newmarket. He's just developed so well since then that I decided I'd just trust him today and let him slide forward in the hope that he would relax, and he did."

"He handled both the quicker ground and the camber beautifully. He was relentless up the straight and I certainly didn't think I'd be looking round in a Derby Trial if I was fortunate to be in front in one. What a wonderful dress rehearsal."

With the winning trainer James Fanshawe present at Ascot, his son Tom was left to do the talking. "He's obviously loved the ground and enjoyed the step up in trip," said Fanshawe Junior.

"He's an exciting horse and hopefully come early June we'll have our top hats ready!"

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