Steamer, drifter, eyecatcher: the curious case of Crystal Ocean
Rapid improver Permian deserves his moment in the limelight but, whether he goes to Epsom or not, Dante third Crystal Ocean made some waves himself – as he had in the Investec Derby market over the previous week.
There had been a plunge on Sir Michael Stoute's Sir Evelyn de Rothschild-owned colt in the days leading up to the Dante, but following a downbeat report from the trainer on Wednesday he drifted at York, in spite of Cracksman's withdrawal, returning 8-1.
When Stoute had claimed Crystal Ocean was "not a Derby horse", it was inferred that he was talking about ability. Given how he shaped, running green under pressure but never stronger than at the finish, it turns out Stoute probably meant something else.
"He's a promising horse," reflected the master Newmarket trainer. "A mile and a half will suit him better. He has got a lot of scope, he has got his future ahead of him. The Derby would not be my plan – but he has an owner!"
Stoute knows a Derby horse when he sees one – he has trained five winners of the race – but equally he knows the type that will improve into Royal Ascot, the King George and even into their four- and five-year-old seasons.
The man who has had Conduit, Harbinger, Telescope and, for De Rothschild, Hillstar pass through his hands in recent years, could have a familiar project to work on with Crystal Ocean.