Frankie Dettori gained the ride upon the Derby favourite, Golden Horn, on the day when the number of acceptors for the premier Classic in a fortnight's time was reduced to 16 and the number of live contenders narrowed even further, despite the victory of Storm The Stars in the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood.
The son of Sea The Stars made every yard of the running under Pat Cosgrave to beat Godolphin’s Best Of Times, previously winner of the Newmarket Stakes on the Rowley Mile, by one and a half lengths. But the William Haggas-trained colt, second to Hans Holbein in the Chester Vase and a head runner-up to Golden Horn on the latter’s debut last autumn, appears a doubtful runner at Epsom.
“He is unlikely to go for the Derby – he is still a real baby, improving a bit every time,” said Maureen Haggas, wife and assistant to the trainer. “He just wants time and could be a Leger horse – he is that sort, he stays well.” As the stable’s runners in the Epsom Classics over two decades can be counted on one hand, yielding a Derby winner in Shaamit and Oaks winner in Dancing Rain, any change of heart would be significant.
Best Of Times remains in the Derby, but Godolphin now have Jack Hobbs as their standard bearer after purchasing a share in the Dante Stakes runner-up this week, with the slightly bizarre consequence that their retained rider William Buick, who rode Golden Horn to victory over his stablemate at York, will trade mounts with Dettori, who has ridden Jack Hobbs hitherto this season.
Aidan O’Brien has four remaining entries – Giovanni Canaletto, Hans Holbein, Kilimanjaro and, intriguingly, the 2,000 Guineas winner Gleneagles, the odds-on favourite for today’s Irish equivalent and hitherto ruled out of a trip to Epsom. Giovanni Canaletto, who missed the Chester Vase through sickness, finally reappears in the Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh tomorrow, when Prince Gagarin will be among his rivals. The Derby picture could yet change.
Derby acceptors (Epsom, 6 June): Best Of Times, Carbon Dating, Elm Park, Epicuris, Giovanni Canaletto, Gleneagles, Great Glen, Hans Holbein, Jack Hobbs, Kilimanjaro, Moheet, Prince Gagarin, Rocky Rider, Rogue Runner, Storm The Stars, Zawraq. To be supplemented: Golden Horn.Reuse content