In a week that the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs was won by a 50-1 outsider, English Derby hints came in thick and fast with important trials at Chester and Lingfield. England’s greatest flat race is only three weeks away and the market is beginning to take shape, replacing the past winter’s speculative ante-post prices.
In the Dee Stakes, Kieran Fallon added to his big race hand, which already features Guineas’ hero “Footstepsinthesand”, with his stable-mate “Gypsy King”. But the long-range second favourite showed definite signs of greenness that do not bode well for Epsom. Slowly out of the gates, the colt trailed the field before fly jumping past the winning post on the first circuit. All credit must go to Fallon who persevered to get his mount up on the line to thwart exposed handicapper “I’m Spartacus”.
In the Chester Vase, Clive Brittain’s “Hattan” was similarly unconvincing in defeating “Almighty”, earning a 33-1 quote for 4 June. John Dunlop will have been a lot happier about the prospects of his “Kong” after Saturday’s Lingfield Derby Trial. Richard Quinn’s mount showed that he could handle an undulating course in readily accounting for favourite “Walk in the Park”, yet another Aidan O’Brien contender. Dunlop gained further success when his “Cassydora” turned the Oaks trial, on the same card, into a procession. She looks like an extremely useful filly.
Winter favourite “Motivator”, trained by Michael Bell, lays his credentials on the line in this Thursday’s Dante Stakes at York and 2000 Guineas failure “Dubawi” will renew his rivalry with “Footstepsinthesand” in the Curragh’s Irish version. Fellow Godolphin hope “Shamardal” will be aimed at the French equivalent.