Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at the Epsom Derby meeting on Saturday. View selections below.
Meticulous John Gosden appears to have a stranglehold on the Investec Derby and GOLDEN HORN (4.30) looks a very worthy favourite to secure the Newmarket trainer’s second blue riband at Epsom.
Golden Horn is unbeaten in three starts and the £75,000 connections forked out to supplement their colt will be chickenfeed should he win the premier Classic. William Buick was on board when Golden Horn stormed to victory over stablemate Jack Hobbs and Elm Park in the Dante at York but since that run Godolphin have purchased a share in Jack Hobbs. This means that Buick, as the boys in blue’s retained rider, has to switch to their new acquisition, which leaves Frankie Dettori free to pick up the plum ride on Golden Horn.
Breeding experts have picked holes in Golden Horn’s possible stamina limitations. His pedigree, and the formbook, supports the theory that he stays a mile and a quarter well enough, yet this extra yardage is a step into unknown territory. But he wasn’t stopping at York and, in any case, he meets some inferior opposition. In short, Golden Horn should be too quick for his rivals. The one exception could be lightly-raced Jack Hobbs, who is entitled to have improved again for his solid Dante performance. However, Gosden has warned he may withdraw his ‘second string’ if the ground is considered too lively. Gosden, who saddled 1997 winner Benny The Dip, sees talented Jack Hobbs as a work in progress but the colt hasn’t a lot to find on form. Furthermore, Jack Hobbs appeared to handle Epsom’s gradients at Breakfast With The Stars with some aplomb and it will be a surprise if he is not involved.
Andrew Balding is praying Epsom is hit by the threatened thunderstorms as Elm Park, who missed the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket because the ground was too fast, is crying out for a softer surface. His proven Group 1-winning back-class would render him a formidable opponent if the heavens open.
Aidan O’Brien has sent out the last three Epsom Derby heroes (Camelot, Ruler Of The World and Australia) and is responsible for a quarter of the 12 runners. Ryan Moore has opted for Giovanni Canaletto and the application of cheek-pieces might make a difference. Success Days offers the best Irish form shown so far, but if there is a dark horse in the race it could be French raider Epicuris.
RESONANT (2.00) should prove hard to peg back in the opening 1m 2f handicap. Mark Johnston’s three-year-old smashed his field to pieces when landing a Newmarket maiden by 10 lengths and, seven days later, followed up by dishing out a handsome beating to Sir Michael Stoute’s progressive Darshini at Goodwood. Drawn well in stall six, Resonant looks sure to go close. Stoute saddles Stravagante, beaten more than 12 lengths by Jack Hobbs at Sandown in April, and he should have a handle on Resonant through Darshini.
ALEKO (2.35) can continue the Johnston yard’s fine start to the year with its juveniles by bagging the Woodcote Stakes. This is an event the Middleham maestro likes to target, having won it four times, and all-the-way Haydock debut scorer ALEKO can add to that impressive tally. Stablemate Buratino was an excellent runner-up to classy King Of Rooks at Sandown last weekend, while Richard Hannon’s Goodwood winner Nelspruit must also be on the shortlist.
SILVANUS (3.45) is a hopeful pick in the 20-runner Investec Corporate Banking Dash. Some serious speedballs go to post and Silvanus is taken to exploit his pitch under the stands’ rail. Paul Midgley has booked Richard Hughes and Silvanus showed blistering pace to beat good yardstick Normal Equilibrium in a conditions event at Chester. Normal Equilibrium, trained by sprint king Robert Cowell, should give apprentice Eddy Greatrex a good spin and stablemate Duke of Firenze, a past winner when trained by Sir Michael Stoute, will have his supporters, too. Caspian Prince landed this prize 12 months ago from the same stall (14), but meets runner-up Seeking Magic on worse terms.
BLACK SHADOW (5.15) is an intriguing runner in a typically competitive handicap run over the Derby trip. He chased home What About Carlo at this meeting 12 months ago and Amanda Perrett gave him a recent pipe-opener at Windsor when fourth to Mutatis Mutandis. The winner followed up at Nottingham earlier this week off a mark of 99, which makes Black Shadow very interesting off his 89 rating. Some rain would be beneficial as he wouldn’t want it too slick.
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