Aidan O’Brien has already mopped up the first two classics of the domestic season, and is launching a six-pronged attack as he bids for a sixth Investec Derby at 430 on Saturday.
In what looks a very open renewal, his best hope could well be Cliffs of Moher (4/1), the choice of Ryan Moore. His Chester trial win was workmanlike, rather than spectacular, but he’s likely to improve considerably for it, and the extra furlong and a half ought to support his chance.
Stable companion Venice Beach (14/1) also won at the same meeting (Chester Vase), with Wings of Eagles and The Anvil finishing behind in second and third.
It didn’t look the hottest of renewals
But the winner did handle the track well, and looks an improver, with stamina assured.
The Ballydoyle maestro also saddles Douglas Macarthur and Capri; the former won the Derrinstown Stud trial in a driving finish, and whilst he showed a good attitude that day, he looks to be further down the Aidan O’Brien pecking order.
John Gosden won the Derby in 2015 with top performer Golden Horn, and the same connections are represented by Cracksman (4/1), who is unbeaten in both of his starts, and has already won at Epsom, when mastering the re-opposing Permian by a short-head.
The second has strongly boosted the form since
By winning York’s Dante Stakes (when Cracksman was withdrawn – because of the soft ground), but the trainer seems happy with the colt’s progress since.
Permian (11/1) has been supplemented at a cost of eighty-five thousand pounds for this weekend’s classic, and seems to be improving with every run.
The Dante is a notable prep for Epsom (four previous winners went on to win the Derby – since 2004), and he is likely to finish in front of Benbatl (second) and Rekindling (fourth) once again.
The other runner who has been supplemented is the recent impressive Cocked Hat Stakes winner, Khalidi.
Last year’s winning jockey Pat Smullen has been booked by trainer John Gosden
But he does look held by Permian on their recent Newmarket form, during the Guineas weekend.
John Gosden, also runs two others, in recent Windsor winner Crowned Eagle, and Lingfield runner-up Glencadam Glory, both of whom would need to improve markedly to figure here.
Godolphin are represented with an interesting trio of challengers; Best Solution (12/1) hacked up in the Lingfield Derby trial (Glencadam Glory second), and looked in grand shape when warming up with a gallop at Chelmsford last week.
Benbatl finished second in the Dante and is improving
As is Newbury maiden winner Dubai Thunder, who annihilated the opposition on his belated debut by ten lengths.
The latter looks an intriguing contender, and reminds me very much of a horse called Hala Bek, who also won a Newbury maiden on his debut, before finishing a close up fourth to Sir Percy (in 2006), on just his second start.
The selection, though, is going to be Martyn Meade’s first ever Derby runner, Eminent (7/1), who will be racing for the very first time away from Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course.
The son of Frankel looks sure to appreciate the step up to a mile and a half, and worked very encouragingly on the track at the Breakfast with the stars recently.
There was just a suspicion that his Guineas sixth place finish came a little bit too quick after an impressive Craven Stakes win, and his trainer felt he was caught a little flat-footed on the day.
The yard had a good winner in the Nottinghamshire Oaks this week, and his price continues to contract in the wake of Saturday’s big contest.
It doesn’t look the warmest of Derby renewals, and Eminent (7/1) may have the class to see off the opposition, albeit, in a very competitive race.
For more horse racing odds, take a look at Grosvenor Sport’s horse racing betting.