Horse Racing: Mick's Gent Can Deal the Trump Card at Lingfield; EASTERBY IS WINTER WONDER

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Byline: NEWSBOY

GENTLEMAN'S DEAL can return shrinking violet Mick Easterby to the limelight with a victory in the Group 3 Betdirect Winter Derby (3.15) at Lingfield Park this afternoon.

Yorkshireman Easterby (below) likes nothing better than launching a successful raid down south - and in Gentleman's Deal he has the ideal man for the job.

The six-year-old entire boasts an unbeaten record on all-weather surfaces - he's won all six of his career starts on sand. The selection started off the sequence in October 2004, when landing a handicap at Wolverhampton for Ed Dunlop.

Injury then kept him off the course for over a year, and it wasn't until New Year's Day 2006 that he reappeared, having moved from Dunlop to Easterby. Lining up for a valuable handicap over a mile at Southwell, the son of Danehill made light of his absence for a three-length call.

And he followed up at Wolverhampton 12 days later, defying a 6lb penalty under Dale Gibson.

Gentleman's Deal failed to get his head in front in six tries on turf last season but returned to his best back on artificial surfaces this winter.

At the start of December he landed a mile handicap at Southwell under today's rider Paul Mulrennan and repeated the trick over the same course and distance in the same event he'd won 12 months previously.

Connections then decided it was time to step out of handicap company, and Gentleman's Deal went off the warm evenmoney favourite for the Listed Ladybird Stakes at Kempton at the beginning of last month.

The step up in class didn't bother him in the slightest as he scored with authority by a length and a half from Grand Passion.

That performance showed Gentleman's

Deal hasn't finished improving, and he should prove up to the task on his first foray into Group company today.

Each of his successes this winter have been at a mile, but today's 10 furlong trip should pose no problem - he scored over an extended nine at Dunstall Park in 2006.

Today's Lingfield card, with a Group 3 contest flanked by Listed events, shows just how far allweather racing in Britain has progressed.

The first of the Listed races, the Betdirectuk.com Spring Cup (2.40), looks a good opportunity for 2,000 Guineas hopeful HURRICANE SPIRIT. John Best's Invincible Spirit colt has gone from strength to strength on Polytrack during the all-weather campaign.

It would certainly rank as a shock if Hurricane Spirit could lower Teofilo's colours at Newmarket in May - but he can book his place in the Classic lineup with a win here. …