Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Jockey: Oisin Murphy | Trainer: Charlie Appleby| OR: 107
Runner-up in both the Classic Trial at Sandown and the Lingfield Derby Trial so far this term, and way he kept on last time pretty much assures his stamina. Had no excuses behind Third Realm at Lingfield, though, and may be too much of a grinder for this contest.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Aidan O'Brien| OR: 117
Shot to the head of the betting when landing the Ballysax/Derrinstown double, and very impressive when beating Lough Derg by six lengths in latter event, with Mac Swiney (had excuses) behind. Claims are clear as day, but he did have a chance to showcase his full talent last time, and not certain to take another leap forward, which opens to the door to some degree.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Mark Johnston| OR: 112
Group 1 winner last year in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud (1¼m, heavy), and entitled to have been rusty when a staying-on fifth in the Dante Stakes at York. Longer trip will suit, and while softer ground would have been preferable, he seems quite an insulting price given his profile.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Aidan O'Brien| OR: 115
Lost his unbeaten record, but improved in form terms when staying on strongly for third in the Dante. Had a setback prior to that, so should improve markedly, and will surely be suited by the Derby trip. Has taken time to warm to his task on all three outings, though, and his biggest problem may be gaining a good track position, which is so important at Epsom.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Jockey: William Buick | Trainer: Charlie Appleby| OR: 112
Put himself firmly in the picture by taking some notable scalps in the Dante Stakes, and stayed on so well at York that it’s hard to imagine the Derby trip will pose any problems. Appears the best of the home contingent on racecourse merit, and this unbeaten colt should arguably have gained more traction in the market than he has.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Jockey: Adam Kirby | Trainer: Ed Dunlop| OR: 106
Out of connections’ Oaks heroine Snow Fairy, and named in honour of the trainer’s late father. Bare form of his win in a Listed race at Newmarket last time gives him plenty to find, but he’s clearly held in the highest esteem, and merits his place in the field.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Jim Bolger| OR: 119
Has excellent credentials as the winner of the Group 1 Vertem Futurity and the Irish Guineas having scoped dirty behind Bolshoi Ballet in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial. Best form so far at a mile in the mud, but his sire made the same step up when winning this race in 2008, and folly to question the merits of a Jim Bolger Classic winner.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: William Haggas| OR: 111
Has progressed markedly to win all three starts this year, and took the jump from handicap company in his stride when slamming his rivals in the Newmarket Stakes at the Guineas meeting. Form of that race is open to interpretation, but he won doing proverbial handsprings, and is clearly one to take seriously.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Richard Hannon
Promise when runner-up on both starts to date at Newbury, most recently when finding only Manobo too strong in a 1¼m maiden last month, but while he looks a useful prospect, this steep rise in class asks questions he may not have the answers to.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Charlie Appleby| OR: 114
Autumn Stakes winner and second to Mac Swiney in the Vertem Futurity. Only sixth in the Guineas on return, but reportedly pleased connections in a spin round the track last Monday. No forlorn hope, but his sire failed to stay when third in 2005, and his own stamina for this trip must be in some doubt.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Joseph O'Brien| OR: 104
Just a maiden win to his name in three starts, and only sixth behind Bolshoi Ballet in the Derrinstown. No obvious chance of that, but plenty went wrong for him in that contest, and he’s the type to do much better down the line. This may come too soon on his learning curve, however.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Roger Varian| OR: 108
Won a Nottingham maiden on his return in April, and took a big step forward when landing the Lingfield Derby Trial last time, impressing with how well he handled the downhill run into the straight. That augurs well for his chances of handling Tattenham Corner, and while it was soft and Lingfield, the going was quick for his maiden win. Shortlisted.
Age: 3| Weight: 9-0| Trainer: Andrew Balding| OR: 111
Juvenile campaign finished before his stamina was fully tested; may have needed his return after a lengthy break, and much improved when landing the Chester Vase last time by 1¾ lengths from Sandhurst. That came on soft ground, and two runs on quick turf have seen him miss the places, which is a concern if the weather remains fair.
It’s hard to imagine that the track has been watered in recent days after the dreadful spring we’ve endured, and it may pay to tread carefully with those who have shown their form on a softer surface. Bolshoi Ballet showed his best form last time on the fastest turf he’s faced to date, and that makes him look a very solid option, for all there is an element of him showing his hand more than others with his Derrinstown romp. In short, he’s the likeliest winner, but may not have quite the chance his official rating implies. Of his stable’s other entries, Van Gogh has had the best preparation, and as a son of Oaks winner Imagine, may do better at this trip than a mile. High Definition was regarded as the pre-season pick, and is sure to improve for his run in the Dante, but his route here has been slightly rushed, and he may pay a price for that at a track which takes no prisoners.
Mohaafeth is the hardest horse to weigh up as he’s seemingly not beaten much, but has looked to have plenty to spare in doing so. He is one horse who would relish rattling fast ground, and enters the equation if the sun keeps shining. Third Realm and Youth Spirit have both won traditional trials in good style, although both came on soft ground. The latter in particular looks a thorough stayer who might be found out in a test of speed, but Third Realm has won on good to firm, and moved beautifully down the hill at Lingfield. He’s one for the shortlist whatever the weather does.
Dante winner HURRICANE LANE beat the former Derby favourite High Definition by two lengths, and shapes as if he will relish the extra distance at Epsom, so it’s hard to see why the handicapper rates him inferior to that horse, and merely on a par with Gear Up. That win was the best English trial for the Derby, and I would have expected the impressive winner to be shorter than he is in the betting. He looks the value play at the time of writing, while if I had to nominate a rank outsider, I’d put Southern Lights up as one who is much better than he showed behind Bolshoi Ballet last time, and not the forlorn hope that formline would suggest.
1. HURRICANE LANE
2. Bolshoi Ballet
3. Third Realm
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