Dante delight: Golden team on horns of a Classic dilemma
First published on Friday, May 15, 2015
A Dante Stakes expected to deliver Classic clarity left the Investec Derby market in a hopelessly confused state last night, headed by a colt not entered at Epsom after Golden Horn swept aside the horses who had held the first three places in the market.
After upstaging Jack Hobbs, Elm Park and John F Kennedy, Golden Horn was being quoted at 7-4 ‘with a run’ by William Hill and a top-priced 3-1 ‘all in’ with BoyleSports, even though the winner’s owner Anthony Oppenheimer, unconvinced his colt will stay the Derby distance, was not ready to commit to making a supplementary entry.
The one answer that did emerge from a race in which Golden Horn beat Jack Hobbs to deliver a one-two for the John Gosden stable, with Elm Park third, was that one-time winter Derby favourite John F Kennedy would not challenge for the Derby after trailing home last.
Feilden Stakes winner Golden Horn, whose only Classic entry is in the Prix du Jockey Club, extended his unbeaten record to three when he finished powerfully to beat Jack Hobbs – Derby favourite before yesterday – with a performance about which jockey William Buick said it would "be hard to give the Derby a miss on that".
He added: "He's won the main trial and I can't see why he wouldn't go close at Epsom."
Golden Horn won the Betfred- sponsored Dante by the emphatic margin of two and three-quarter lengths, with last year's Racing Post Trophy winner Elm Park another three and a quarter lengths back and it was another 13 lengths to the fourth Nafaqa.
Gosden said: "Coming up on the train I realised these horses could be first and second, but I half-felt this guy was more professional. He had a dream trip.
"Jack Hobbs was rather wide the whole way and then a bit green. I'm delighted with his run and the third gives us a very good benchmark."
He said of Jack Hobbs: "He could go to Epsom, he could go to the King Edward VII. He's still a very tall, lanky, rangy, talented horse. He won his handicap off 85 doing handstands. I'd like to think about it. I don't think we have to answer those questions now.
"Golden Horn is a well-balanced horse and is neat. Jack Hobbs is a different type. To that extent, I can see the logic in supplementing Golden Horn, but it's not my money.
"I had been banging on about him being entered in the Derby and suggested running him at Epsom to win the Derby Trial [to gain automatic entry], but I kept getting told he's a mile-and-a-quarter horse."
Owner-breeder Oppenheimer, who put Golden Horn into training after he failed to reach his reserve at the sales, may need more convincing.
"I think the French Derby looks more attractive in some ways," he said. "I think we're going to have to see how he takes the race and what John Gosden thinks. It's a difficult decision. I don't think many members of the family stayed more than ten furlongs.
"We'll just have to wait a few days before we take any decision whether he goes into the Derby or the French Derby."
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