A big decision awaits after Telecaster takes Morrison to a new place in Dante
Britain has badly needed to unearth a serious challenger to Aidan O'Brien's huge Investec Derby battalion. That horse might well have been found at York on Thursday, but the Derby in which Telecaster seeks to thwart Ballydoyle might yet be at the Curragh, not Epsom.
Those connected to the striking Dante Stakes winner face an enviable but difficult decision.
It is one that will principally hang not on an £85,000 supplementary entry fee but on the question of whether the most exciting horse ever trained by Hughie Morrison can be at his best just 16 days after shrugging off the sustained harassment of last season's champion juvenile Too Darn Hot.
Plenty of 6-1 and bits of 13-2 were offered in Derby quotes about a colt who raced for the first time as recently as Lincoln day at Doncaster, where he chased home the Epsom-bound Bangkok.
He then romped to victory on a Monday at Windsor before visiting the Knavesmire and teaming up with Oisin Murphy to capture an Al Basti Equiworld-backed Dante in which among those the son of New Approach thumped were the promising third Surfman and the O'Brien-trained Japan.
O'Brien still dominates the Derby betting, at the top of which sits runaway Chester Vase winner Sir Dragonet, who also made his debut this season and shares something else in common with Telecaster.
For both Sir Dragonet and Telecaster featured among the 338 yearlings originally entered in December 2017 for the 240th Investec Derby. A payment of just £1,100 on March 5 this year would have kept their possible participation alive, but instead they were scratched from the most famous of all Flat races.
News on Sir Dragonet, now trading between 2-1 and 11-4 for the Derby, is awaited, as it is about Telecaster.
"I'm not sure which Derby we'll go for, if we go for one," said Mark Weinfeld, one of ten people who make up the Castle Down Racing syndicate that owns Telecaster.
"I think Epsom might come a bit too soon for him, but we'll see how the horse comes out of the race. He had quite a hard race today and is still quite green.
"You could spoil him by running in the Derby. He isn't in any of the three main Derbys, but I would say possibly the Irish Derby might be the best option as I think the track would suit."
Morrison, who two years ago was embroiled in a BHA doping investigation from which a panel found him innocent of any crime, in November came close to winning the Melbourne Cup. Marmelo found one horse too good. There seems little doubt Morrison has ever trained a horse so good as Telecaster.
"He's obviously pretty special," said Morrison. "I haven't a clue how good, though, because I've had nothing like him before. In the spring he and Marmelo went up the hill at home and Marmelo suddenly felt he wasn't going as well as Telecaster, so he gave him a quick bite.
"It's great to be on the top table. We only have ten three-year-old colts, so to have one who could be thought of running in the Derby with a bit of chance is great for the whole team."
Thinking about the Derby must now start in earnest.
"We'll give it a few days," said Morrison. "The Derby is obviously the way you would like to think we'll go, but there are only 16 days between the races and he has had more than a racecourse gallop today. It's also fast ground out there and that takes its toll."
Stressing about the call the owners and their trainer must now make may take a toll on Weinfeld, whose historic Meon Valley Stud bred Telecaster but then bought him back in the sales ring when the board showed 180,000gns. Weinfeld felt that undervalued his young horse. He was right.
"We try not to keep colts," he said, although he must be pleased he kept one for whom Epsom was initially abandoned two months ago.
"Back in March the trainer asked me what I thought and I asked the trainer what he thought," he said. "We decided between us we probably wouldn't be ready in time – and we possibly aren't ready.
"Had we kept him in the Derby it would now be a lot cheaper if we do decide to run, but you can't change what you've already done. This still feels fantastic."
Whether Telecaster heads to Epsom, Chantilly or the Curragh, Weinfeld has a fantastic young racehorse. The Derby dilemma he now faces is rather fantastic as well.
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