A sport gratified by the monarch's unswerving priorities – she will draw the nation's attention to Epsom on her Jubilee weekend, by attending the Investec Derby as usual – tonight welcomes back the colt who prompted so much patriotic fervour this time last year.
Carlton House was made Derby favourite after winning the Dante and duly fared best of the home runners on the day, without quite matching two raiders from beyond his owner's dominions: Pour Moi from France and Treasure Beach from Ireland. He again ran creditably in the Irish Derby, beaten only a couple of lengths into fourth behind Treasure Beach, while confirming the impression he might benefit from a drop back to 10 furlongs. Be that as it may, he has evidently had one or two other issues to deal with, making his first start since in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes on a card sponsored by Betfair at Sandown this evening.
His trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, restored the 2010 Derby winner to the fray in this race last year and Workforce duly outclassed his rivals under a 7lb penalty. It seems legitimate to expect much the same from Carlton House, who has no such impediment – and rather more in the way of natural speed.
Certainly, John Warren, the Queen's racing manager, is looking forward to the resumption of a career that still only comprises five starts. "This is a good starting point for him, and a good opportunity to learn something about his trip," he said. "Last year Ryan Moore said he had tremendous speed, and he won the Dante over this trip, travelling well. Sir Michael is very happy with the way he's moving, and has shown a lot of patience to get him back."
Stoute has required similar forbearance with Tales Of Grimm, who won his only start at two but missed various engagements during the wet spring. He finally resurfaces in the Heron Stakes, a race that looks good enough to yield a strong candidate for the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. His opponents include Top Offer, fast-tracked to the 2,000 Guineas by no less circumspect a trainer than Roger Charlton, only to prove all at sea on the soft ground.
Godolphin hasten here with a filly, Irish History, just 10 days after her runaway debut at Windsor, and also have a strong hand in the Henry II Stakes through Opinion Poll and Ley Hunter. But how they could do with a big run from Kailani in the Investec Oaks tomorrow, having failed to muster a Derby colt.
She was one of 14 final declarations for the fillies' Classic, six of which are stabled at Ballydoyle. Joseph O'Brien duly rides Maybe, who is contesting favouritism with The Fugue, leaving Ryan Moore to take the mount on Kissed – albeit the latter will only line up if there is sufficient ease in the ground.
The official going at Epsom yesterday remained good, good to firm in places, and watering was planned in the event of local showers missing the track.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Hezmah (9.20 Newcastle) Significant that top connections have persevered with this filly.
Terdaad (8.55 Sandown) Just caught out by a steady pace last time, but left no doubt he is capable of surpassing this kind of mark, lightly raced as he is.
One to watch
Ziggy Lee (Giles Bravery) Was not beaten far at York on Saturday despite racing from 6lb out of the handicap.
Where the money's going
Astrology is 10-1 from 12-1 with Paddy Power for the Investec Derby on Saturday.