Local hero Alpha Delphini is in the frame to once again set the sprinting world alight at Beverley Racecourse this season.
Bryan Smart’s six-year-old was a stunning winner of the totepool Beverley Bullet last year when he claimed glory by a neck in a thrilling finish to the Listed heat. Alpha Delphini is a half-brother to Tangerine Trees, the gifted sprinter who won the Bullet in 2011 before going on to secure Group One honours in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp. And like his now-retired former stablemate, he was bred, and is partly-owned, by Beverley resident Marie Matthews.
Beverley’s season begins next Wednesday 19 April, yet Smart is already looking towards late summer when his classy speedster could defend his crown in the valuable five-furlong Bullet on Saturday 2 September.
The North Yorkshire handler said: 'He's won it once, and there's no reason why he couldn't have another go at it. He's plenty of options but the Bullet is there for us. He seems to love Beverley – he won his maiden there too, and it's a great prize to have a go at. It was a brilliant day when he won it last year, not least because of Marie and her connections with Beverley, but also because it was a proper, proper race. I wouldn’t be afraid to send him to Beverley for the Bullet again, put it that way.'
Alpha Delphini went to Newbury after his Beverley heroics and ably franked the Bullet form when a short-head second to the 112-rated Cotai Glory in the Group Three Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes. The gelded son of Captain Gerrard is reportedly thriving at his Hambleton base and is likely to make his seasonal debut at Newmarket in May.
Smart added: 'Alpha is very well, I'm really happy with him. He's had a good winter and he has strengthened up a lot – he's a much bigger horse than he was last year. He'll go to the Palace House at Newmarket first, and then we’ll take it from there. I'm very pleased with him, physically, and it will be great to get him going again.'
The totepool Beverley Bullet is the keynote race of the season at the popular East Yorkshire venue and has been won in the past by such luminaries as Hellvelyn (2007), Borderlescott (2012), Pearl Secret (2014) and Maarek (2015).