An Early Look Ahead To The Epsom Derby

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AN EARLY LOOK AHEAD TO THE EPSOM DERBY

The Investec Derby Stakes - one of Great Britain's most iconic and traditional spectacles in the horse racing calendar, is a Group One contest on the flat specifically designed for three-year-old thoroughbred colts, over the mile-and-a-half distance.

Stepping up from the mile trip from the Guineas meeting in early May, the Derby forms leg two of the Colts Triple Crown - followed by the St Leger at Doncaster.

Along with the Investec Oaks; equivalent for the fillies over the same trip, this race encourages a further test on stamina and longevity for the runners involved, half-circling Epsom's jerky and rugged contours.

Run typically on the first Saturday of June each year, it is Britain's richest horse race, and the most prestigious of the five Classics - even referred to as the "Blue Riband" of the turf.

One of Britain's great national sporting events, it has a magnificent following around the world.

This year's renewal - which will takes place on the very 1st of June, could see one of the biggest fields numbers wise declared in the last few years, and greatest in terms of quality.

Yards from Britain, Ireland and France all remain in tact for the emblematic Group One, which currently has been blown wide open after Lord Lloyd Webber's Champion Two-Year-Old Too Darn Hot will miss the coveted event, after failing to handle the step-up in trip in the Dante at York.

Telecaster prevailed for Hughie Morrison and Oisin Murphy on the Knavesmire ahead of last season's Dewhurst winner, and as a result, trainer John Gosden confirmed the son of Dubawi will lower back to a mile to compete in the St James's Palace at Royal Ascot.

(Credit - Racing TV)

Connections may opt to try again in the future, but a horse of that calibre cannot dawdle in terms of trip, and all involved will expect a return to form back down to seven or eight furlongs - not that he ran badly in the Group Two contest by any means.

Hughie Morrison did not pay the initial pre-forfeit fee to keep Telecaster in the Derby over a week ago however, and will need to get his owners to stump up a hefty fee of approximately £80,000 should they want to compete at Epsom - Slalom and Cap Francais are others in the field that will need to be supplemented.

It was a very taking performance from the three-year-old, who finished second to the Andrew Balding-trained Bangkok on debut at Doncaster; who won the bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown, begging the question of how good he is given the job Telecaster has done since.

Bangkok represents a number of leading chances for the Brits, along with Roger Varian's exciting young Surfman, who finished third in the Dante and ran on with great credit.

The Dante could be a contest we look back on at the end of the season as a race that produced several subsequent stars, and the son of Kingman could certainly be just that.

Prior to York, he was two from three (third on debut), after winning by a fourteen-length margin in a Novice Stakes at Newcastle over ten furlongs, demonstrating to all his potential.

He could suit the potential step-up to a mile-and-a-half, likewise for Guineas runner-up King Of Change, who was the second Richard Hannon horse to outrun odds of 66/1 in a Guineas meeting in the last twelve months.

Masar

Godolphin won the race with Masar last year - who is yet to reappear from injury since. The boys in blue have two possible chances trained by Charlie Appleby; Al Hilalee and Line Of Duty who will both need to be back at their best.

John Gosden - without Too Darn Hot, does have the intriguing Dubai Warrior who could be something special, but has been absent since his impressive debut win at Chelmsford through injury. Humanitarian is another.

As for the rest of the field, it is all about the Master of Ballydoyle Aidan O'Brien, who could have an Epsom Derby to himself, with so many runners and so many possible chances.

It's a wonder why anyone else really bothers - in fact, he currently trains four of the first five in the market, and at one stage before York's latest meeting, had seven of the first eight.

His chances commence with Broome, who is two from two this season twice amongst Group Three level, both in Derby Trials on varying ground at Leopardstown.

Curragh

Broome was second in a Group One at the Arc meeting at Longchamp in October, and has been considered the yard's favourite for this.

That may have come after Sir Dragonet - another horse who would need to be supplemented to race in this, has the opportunity to race over in France instead, where O'Brien has found another suitable race for the three-year-old after his two immaculate displays in the last month.

He won the Chester Vase over a mile-and-a-half by eight widening lengths, having been held up by Donnacha O'Brien early on, beating stablemate Norway who is still involved here.

Away from Chester, Anthony Van Dyck showcased his claims with an emphatic victory at Lingfield, whilst Japan ran on well to finish fourth in the Dante and could be capable of further down the line.

Circus Maximus and Cape Of Good Hope - also winners in Derby Trials this term, could and should be involved in this.

It will be the 239th running of the Epsom Derby in under a fortnight's time, and we are in for another cracker.

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