By Simon Jackson.
Golden Horn, Jack Hobbs and Elm Park – the first three in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York – now appear to be certain runners in the Investec Derby on June 6.
Golden Horn won the Dante – a key trial for the Derby – by two and three quarter lengths from his John Gosden-trained stablemate Jack Hobbs. Elm Park, the 2014 Racing Post Trophy winner trained by Andrew Balding, was three and a quarter lengths back in third place, the trio finishing well clear of their nearest rival.
They continue to occupy three of the first four places in the betting for the Derby after working well at the Breakfast With The Stars event at Epsom Downs on Tuesday morning.
Golden Horn – whose owners must pay a £75,000 supplementary entry fee on June 1 to add him to the Derby field – is favourite at 7-4. Elm Park is 11-2, Jack Hobbs 13-2 and the Dermot Weld-trained Zawraq, who did not exercise at Epsom, is second favourite at 9-2.
Golden Horn was exercised yesterday by Frankie Dettori who was pleased with the way the unbeaten son of Cape Cross handled the tricky Epsom track.
“Golden Horn is a very laid-back character and the important thing was to get him to whiz around the bend,” said Dettori who won the 2007 Derby on Authorized. “Golden Horn gave me a good feel. But he is the sort of horse who needs the crowd to rev him up and he is a better horse on a raceday.
“The Dante is a telling factor at this stage and Golden Horn is thriving but don’t dismiss Jack Hobbs, who is a very good horse too. A mile and a half is definitely within Jack Hobbs’ compass and he is rawer than Golden Horn and has more improvement in him.
Meanwhile Andrew Balding believes Elm Park has improved since finishing third in the Dante.
“Elm Park’s weight has not changed dramatically from York but he is definitely a bit tighter,” Balding said. “He dropped a bit after the Dante because he had a hard race but is now the same weight as he went into it. That is good – he has eaten well since and not missed a day.
“He was just leg weary in the Dante – he tied up in the last 100 yards which was purely down to fitness and having his first race for such a long time.
“There were no hiding places in a race of that nature but it should have put him spot on for the Derby – 13 lengths back to the fourth says it all but we needed to have a run. You don’t mind getting beaten in the Dante if you are going to win the Derby.
“He is very relaxed horse and he has got a bit of class. I have massive respect for both of John Gosden’s horses and for Dermot Weld’s. The Derby looks wide open. We had a perfectly satisfactory prep run so I think we have every reason to be optimistic.”
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.