ENGLISH KING can reign over his Epsom rivals in the Investec Derby (4.55).
Ed Walker’s colt was hugely impressive when winning the Lingfield Trial, travelling easily in a strongly-run race over a course and distance which is very similar to the Derby track, before quickening away to beat Berkshire Rocco in some style in a fast time.
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The runner-up was seven lengths clear of the rest and has since run another blinder when second in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, behind Santiago.
The winner followed up in last week’s Irish Derby so, according to my form book, that already makes English King good enough to have won the Curragh Classic. This demands more but English King, after just three career starts, surely has plenty more to offer.
Kameko is top on ratings after his 2,000 Guineas triumph but that form is not working out too well and there are huge doubts about his stamina for the Derby trip. He may well prove best around 1m2f.
Pyledriver smashed his rivals in the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot and in clearly improving, while Mohican Heights stayed on for third but he seemed to lack the pace to travel as easily as the winner and, though he may improve for the run, he could struggle to reverse the form.
Mogul, long touted as a Derby horse, was back in fourth. He should improve and play a part but, at the odds, Pyledriver looks like the best value for each-way players.
Aidan O’Brien runs five more and, appropriately enough, Vatican City definitely has a prayer. He caught the eye staying on strongly in the Irish Guineas and has more to offer, but is no guaranteed stayer.
If plotting a course might be tricky for Dettori in the Derby he should have no such problems in the eight-runner Oaks (3.40) where FRANKLY DARLING has an outstanding chance.
She followed an impressive maiden win with a smooth success in Ascot’s Ribblesdale Stakes, with Ennistymon, Passion and Bharani Star chasing her home at respectful distances. The Frankel filly has massive potential and will surely confirm that form.
Love has been favourite since trouncing her rivals in the 1,000 Guineas in great style. However that form is looking shaky now and the well-exposed winner may have been flattered.
Gold Wand, a winner of a Newbury maiden that has not been tested yet form-wise, is as short as 10-1. Andrea Atzeni rides but Gold Wand might need Harry Potter to win!
The 1,000 Guineas form comes under scrutiny again in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes (4.15) where Newmarket runner-up Cloak Of Spirits, plus also-rans Rose Of Kildare and Summer Romance, go to post.
None can be ruled out but FOORAAT can progress past them all. She was hugely impressive when making a winning return at Chelmsford and this well-bred filly could be a true star in the making.
Onassis was impressive coming off a fast pace at Ascot but this will be a very different test.
There is some superb action on Sunday, the highlight of which is obviously the return of Enable in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown (3.35).
I thought her stablemate Lord North would have had a fantastic chance but he has been withdrawn – perhaps John Gosden agreed! It will still be tough for her with Ghaiyyath, Japan and co to beat but the race is best watched, let’s hope she returns as good as ever.
The rest of the Sandown card is a cracker and LAZULI has outstanding claims in the Coral Charge (1.50). He blitzed his rivals in the Listed Scurry Stakes over course and distance three weeks ago and looks well up to Group 3 company.
He is up against mostly exposed older sprinters so the big danger is fellow three-year-old Liberty Beach, proven at the track and an excellent third in the King’s Stand at Ascot last time.
MONTATHAM can land the Coral Challenge (3.00). He was an excellent second in the Hunt Cup at Ascot and can reverse the form with the winner, Dark Vision, on slightly better terms.
William Haggas’s ace is much more lightly raced than the Ascot hero and has greater scope for further progress. The Hunt Cup third bolted in at Windsor last week so the form is already working out well.
I spy an eyecatcher…
At Newmarket last Saturday ONE SMALL STEP ran a race packed with promise on her debut in the 1m fillies’ novice event.
She was slowly away, forced to race wide on the unfavoured part of the track, and was making her first appearance against more experienced opponents. Oh, and she was a 33-1 shot!
So, for her to run on in great style to take second, was a terrific effort. B
rian Meehan’s filly was beaten less than a length and finished ahead of runners from the Haggas, bin Suroor and Gosden stables so the form is probably pretty solid.
One Small Step should be capable of giant strides next time.