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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

The big three: focus on the market leaders for the Epsom Classic

Tight finish: Cracksman (middle) just gets the better of Permian (right) in the Derby trial at Epsom
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Cracksman heads powerful Gosden team

The owner, trainer and jockey who combined to triumph with Golden Horn just two years ago reunite with the horse who might well start favourite for the 238th Derby, but for John Gosden the race is about much more than just Cracksman.

Anthony Oppenheimer's winner of Epsom's own trial will again be partnered by Frankie Dettori when joining Khalidi (Pat Smullen), Crowned Eagle (Andrea Atzeni), Glencadam Glory (James Doyle) and Pealer (Silvestre de Sousa) in a five-strong challenge from the trainer also successful with Benny The Dip 20 years ago.

Soft ground caused Cracksman to be ruled out of the Dante Stakes and sent back to Epsom for a pre-Derby gallop, a change of plan Gosden does not rue. Nor does he sound perturbed that last week's Goodwood winner Khalidi has been supplemented by owner Nizar Anwar for £85,000.

"Cracksman has been in good form at home and has done well since winning at Epsom," he said.

"He's had a nice spin on the track since then at Breakfast with the Stars and I'm pleased with his development. Missing testing ground in the Dante at York was the right choice for him.

"The owner of Khalidi took me by surprise last Sunday morning by calling to say he wanted to supplement.

"He has come out of Goodwood in top order. The way he went around the track there would suggest he can handle Epsom, but he would not appreciate any thundershowers if they materialise."


2016 So Mi Dar Did not run in Derby
2015 Christophermarlowe Did not run
2014 Our Channel 13th
2013 Mirsaale 9th
2012 Goldoni ineligible as a gelding
2011 Slumber Did not run
2010 Dreamspeed Did not run
2009 Debussy 8th
2008 Curtain Call 10th 
2007 Raincoat – Did not run
2006 Before You Go 13th
2005 Hallhoo Did not run
2004 Bull Run Did not run
2003 Frankilns Gardens 14th 
2002 Swing Wing Did not run
2001 Storming Home 5th
2000 Eternal Spring Did not run

Crowned Eagle tackles the Derby after winning a Windsor handicap, while Glencadam Glory most recently finished second in Lingfield's trial, a somewhat more obvious sighter than Pealer's 19-length victory in a Southwell maiden.

Gosden added: "Crowned Eagle won his maiden nicely and is bred for the job, as his brother Wings Of Desire was fourth in the race a year ago. He stays well and has a progressive profile.

"Glencadam Glory has been slow out of the stalls but he's had some gate work with Gary Witherford to address that. He ran well in the Lingfield Derby Trial, which I think was a better race than people give it credit for this year, and he deserves to take his chance.

"Pealer is an optimistic entry but has had a spin round the track at Breakfast with the Stars and is a horse we've always liked."

Cracksman pros Way he finished the Epsom trial was most encouraging, while he should shine over the trip

Cracksman cons Did not look entirely suited to Epsom in either the trial or his more recent morning gallop

Cliffs Of Moher bids to put rivals in shade

Galileo, who put Aidan O'Brien on the Derby roll of honour for the first time in 2001, is responsible for five of the trainer's six runners as he bids to win the Classic for the sixth time.

O'Brien has certainly enjoyed a good run in the trials. Cliffs Of Moher, the Dee Stakes winner, heads the Ballydoyle team and the manner of his Chester win makes O'Brien believe the colt should get the longer trip.

O'Brien said: "When Cliffs Of Moher went to Chester he was just ready to start and we were far from certain he'd get the extended mile and a quarter as he'd always shown us a lot of pace. But the way he went to the line was encouraging.

"His performance entitled him to run in the Derby. We were delighted with his performance and he should have learned plenty from it. We've been very happy with him since."

Ryan Moore, who rides Cliffs Of Moher, will be bidding for a third Derby win on a colt who will be attempting to become the first Dee Stakes winner to land the Classic since Kris Kin in 2003.

Two of O'Brien's Derby winners, Galileo himself and High Chaparral, won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial en route to greater glory and Douglas Macarthur, winner of the Leopardstown event last month, has the widest draw (19 of 19) to overcome.


2014 Australia, ridden by Joseph O’Brien, starting price 11-8f
2013 Ruler Of The World Ryan Moore, 7-1
2012 Camelot Joseph O’Brien, 8-13f
2002 High Chaparral Johnny Murtagh, 7-2
2001 Galileo Mick Kinane, 11-4jf

O'Brien said of Colm O'Donoghue's ninth Derby ride: "We were delighted with Douglas Macarthur's Derrinstown win and we've always thought he'd get a mile and a half."

Capri, third behind Douglas Macarthur at Leopardstown, is a tenth ride in the race for Seamie Heffernan.

"Capri came on nicely from his first run of the season and ran very well in the Derrinstown," continued O'Brien. "He gets a mile and a quarter well and should be able to step up.

"His wins have been on slow ground, but that's just the way things panned out and we don't think such conditions are essential for him."

Venice Beach, Wings Of Eagles and The Anvil, the first three home in the Chester Vase, complete the O'Brien team.

O'Brien said of Venice Beach, a second Derby ride for his 18-year-old son Donnacha: "He's a solid, straightforward colt and has done well this season. He won nicely last time and we've been pleased with him since."

Wings Of Eagles, a son of 2011 race winner Pour Moi, is a first ride in the Derby for Padraig Beggy, while O'Brien's daughter Ana, 21, the leading apprentice in Ireland this season, will be having her first British Classic ride on The Anvil. She will be only the third female jockey to ride in the race after Hayley Turner and Alex Greaves.

The trainer added: "We liked Wings Of Eagles last year and were delighted with his run at Chester. We've been happy with him since.

"The Anvil is a solid individual who should appreciate the trip and, indeed, stay further."

Cliffs Of Moher pros Lightly-raced, his Dee Stakes win promised better to come and suggested he will cope with this longer distance

Cliffs Of Moher cons Will need to show he has progressed from Chester, and dam's side of pedigree doesn't guarantee stamina

Eminent out to give Meade notable first

At 69 years of age Martyn Meade saddles his first runner in the Investec Derby – and the excitement of what might be to come is making him tingle.

Eminent, like Cracksman a son of Frankel, is one of the leading contenders based on his sixth-place finish in the 2,000 Guineas that augured well for a Craven Stakes winner whose pedigree strongly suggests he could make notable improvement now sent beyond a mile.

"Just to have a runner in the Derby is fantastic," said Meade.

"To be part of it is a privilege and beyond my wildest dreams. It makes you tingle to think about it. There cannot be anything better.

"I look at the American races and the high-value contests around the world but they mean nothing like the Derby. I have to pinch myself because there’s no standout horse in race this year and the more you look at it, the more it looks like he has a good chance."

Assessing Eminent's Guineas effort, Meade added: "It was acutely disappointing but it was not the end of the world. He’s bouncing again now and has got Derby written all over him for me."

Hoping that turns out to be true is champion jockey Jim Crowley, who finished seventh on his Derby debut last year and now dons the colours of owner Sir Peter Vela.

"He has the right profile, he wouldn't mind any ease in the ground and I hope he'll stay," said Crowley, adding: "With 19 runners it could be rough, so I just hope we get a clean run."

Pros Floated around the track at Breakfast with the Stars and could improve significantly for a mile and a half

Cons Bubble was somewhat burst in the Guineas and stamina not actually guaranteed

Derby card and betting


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