Oh So Grand and Twirling provide Simon & Ed Crisford with a strong hand as they chase a repeat win in the £100,000 BetMGM Winter Oaks (3.10pm) at Lingfield Park on Saturday, January 20.
The father-son partnership captured the 10-furlong fillies’ handicap 12 months ago with Al Agaila, who went on to claim Listed honours in France later in the year.
Oh So Grand is following the same route as Al Agaila, with the four-year-old having posted an emphatic success in the BetMGM Winter Oaks Trial over the course and distance in December.
Twirling meanwhile has raced exclusively over a mile in four career starts so far. The daughter of Churchill recorded a pair of novice wins at Kempton Park before going down by a neck in third on her handicap debut at Lingfield Park last month.
Simon Crisford said: “Both Oh So Grand and Twirling are in good form and we have been very happy with their preparations for this race.
“Both of them will need to run career-best figures to feature, but we are hopeful that they are capable of doing that.”
Oh So Grand’s jockey Jack Mitchell told Sky Sports Racing: “She is in great form. I had a sit on her the other day and she seems to have come out of the trial very well. A lot went wrong that day as I was drawn a bit wide and had to get in. Luckily, there was an even pace, which allowed me to creep into it without having to sit and sprint.
“We got racing three [furlongs] out and I remember David Egan rushed pass me on the outside, which took her by surprise. I had to get her back on an even keel so I could have one clear run at them and, to be fair to her, she showed a good turn of foot to hit the line strong.
“She definitely has character but, on the whole, she is very straightforward for all that she lugs a bit under pressure. She stays very well, as she proved at Newcastle the time before. This looks a competitive race as always, but she goes there in good form.”
BetMGM Winter Oaks Trialrunner-up Queen Regent has first-time cheekpieces as she looks to reverse the form with Oh So Grand, with John & Thady Gosden’s filly receiving a 4lb pull in the weights.
Miss Bluebelle lines up on the back of a career-best effort in an extended nine-furlong handicap at Wolverhampton last weekend, when she spreadeagled the field to win by three lengths.
Her trainer Marcus Tregoning said: “I thought it was quite a taking performance from Miss Bluebell at Wolverhampton and she has come out of it really well.
“She has gone up 7lb, which makes life harder, but she is a big, scopey mare who should continue to do well through the year, although there is a chance that she will be put in foal sooner rather than later.
“She has always been a good-moving sort and Lingfield tends to suit those type of horses. I am a big fan of Lingfield, I think it is a very good track.
“She is stepping up in trip slightly, although I don’t see it being an issue. She has a decent draw in stall two and I expect her to run a nice race.”
Storymaker (George Boughey) also arrives at the top of her game after securing her fourth victory in the space of 24 days at Southwell on January 9.
Behind The Scenes drops down in class for James Tate after contesting two Listed races overseas, including finishing fourth in the Cooley Stakes at Dundalk in November.
Dayzee, who finished a place ahead of Twirling at the track on her first start for Barry Brennan, and handicap debutant Eleanor Cross (Andrew Balding) complete the eight runners.
Elsewhere on the £242,000 Winter Million card, Diomed Spirit goes for a fifth straight victory in the Build Your Acca With BetUK Handicap (2.35pm) over five furlongs. Stuart Williams’ sprinter has climbed 19lb in the handicap following a brace of wins at both Chelmsford and Wolverhampton.
Other in-form contenders include the Kevin Ryan-trained Bergerac and Roger Teal’s Chipstead, who come into the race on the back of victories at Southwell and Kempton Park respectively.
The weights are headed by Silky Wilkie, who was twice runner-up at Listed level in 2023 for Karl Burke and makes his first appearance since September.
Dragon Icon (Roger Varian) looks to defy a 236-day absence in the Bet £10 Get £40 At BetMGM Handicap (2.00pm), on what will be his first outing since finishing fifth in the G2 German 2,000 Guineas.
The opposition includes his stable-mate Fantastic Fox and Richard Hannon’s Talis Evolvere, who seeks a third win from his last four starts.