IT SEEMS like yesterday that the flat season kicked off at Doncaster and yet we are only a week away from Britain’s most prestigious and valuable race, the Vodafone Derby. Next Saturday afternoon, the stars of the current three-year-old generation of staying colts will come under starter’s orders at Epsom and it has been many years since the twelve furlong race has seemed as open as this time around.
Four-time winning trainer Michael Stout will field Kalamkar and Mountain High but neither looks to have classic potential. Both Motivator and Godolphin’s Shamardal have been dominating the ante-post market and although successful in their trials, seem to be missing that extra gear required at Epsom.
The Aidan O’Brien/Kieran Fallon combination have a wealth of talent to choose from – Indigo Cat, Footstepsinthesand, Gypsy King and Scorpion to mention but a few – none of which have either the temperament or stamina to take the big race.
Richard Quinn has the choice between Unfurled, The Geezer and Kong, the latter looking like the best bet, but none of the mentioned contenders look likely to trouble Saed bin Suroor’s Dubawi who took last Saturday’s Irish 2000 Guineas like a horse which will be seen at its best over an extra four furlongs – as long as there is some give in the ground.
The fillies’ equivalent, the Oaks, has a much classier look about it this year. David Elsworth has a live contender in easy Lupe Stakes winner Something Exciting, while Eswarah’s facile Newbury win looks just as impressive. John Dunlop’s Cassydora ran away with her trial and if anything is going to beat her, it may well be the French-trained Divine Proportions who remains undefeated after taking the French 1000 Guineas by five lengths to record her seventh straight victory. A Miesque in the making?