04/06/2002 12:00AM

Odds-on Castle Gandolfo wins at Lingfield


Castle Gandolfo won his trial for a possible Kentucky Derby challenge at Lingfield Park, south of London, on Saturday. A 2-5 favorite, he won by 2 1/2 lengths from Aramram.

Trained by Aidan O'Brien, Castle Gandolfo broke from post 9 of 10 in the Fosters-International Trial Stakes, run at one mile on an all-weather track. The Surrey course had staged the race in the hope of attracting Johannesburg, who instead was scheduled to race Sunday at The Curragh in Ireland.

Castle Gandolfo did not look too happy on the surface in the early stages, but settled in about sixth place. Aramram, the only horse drawn outside him, was last halfway through the race on the unfamiliar surface.

Michael Kinane took Castle Gandolfo to the outside on the downhill part of the course, and they came four wide into the straight before soon putting the result beyond doubt.

Aramram, a son of Danzig whose only previous race had been a mile maiden at Doncaster on March 21, the opening day of the turf season, got the best of a three-way battle for second.

Kinane said of Castle Gandolfo: "He got a little behind early on but I let him coast around. When he got into the clear I still had a lot of horse left under me. If things had bounced his way last year, he would have been a Group 1 winner already. He was just beaten in the Racing Post Trophy and pulled a bit hard in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud because there was no pace."

Castle Gandolfo, named for the Pope's summer palace outside Rome, was second in both those Group 1 races, beaten by a stablemate each time. A son of Gone West, he has won each of his other three outings.

Bindaree takes Grand National

Bindaree, one of three runners in the field of 40 saddled by Nigel Twiston-Davies, fought back to regain the lead and win the Martell Grand National at Aintree, Liverpool, on Saturday. A 20-1 chance, he won by 1 3/4 lengths from What's Up Boys (10-1), with Blowing Wind, the 8-1 favorite, 27 lengths back in third.

Only 11 horses completed the 4 1/2 miles and 30 fences, much fewer than predicted for Saturday's perfect conditions.

Winning rider Jim Culloty, 28, who had failed to complete the Grand National in three previous tries, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Best Mate last month and is the first to win Britain's two richest steeplechases in the same year since John Burke in 1976. It was a second Grand National for Twiston-Davies, who won with Earth Summit four years ago.

The Last Fling was the only casualty among the horses and all the riders returned safely.