Kieren Fallon clearly doesn't fancy his chances, but there are plenty of others who reckon that even a comprehensive defeat for Native Khan in the season's first Classic represents the best form in the field today.
The grey fared much the best of those reckless enough to follow the smouldering pace set by one of the freaks of the modern breed, Frankel, in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in April. Native Khan hung tough, holding out for third, and there will be no Frankel in the way today, when he tries a much longer distance.
Some doubt that a colt who could run so well over a mile will have the necessary stamina, and his trainer has an open mind. "He doesn't look like a powerhouse miler," Ed Dunlop said. "And while his pedigree can be analysed in every direction, Olivier Peslier and Kieren both think he'll stay. Last season he got more and more relaxed, as time went on – not so much lazy, as chilled. Remember, I've won two Oaks with fillies that had major doubts over staying a mile and a half. They've got to be able to travel. If they're not on the bridle, they're not going to win."
The other obvious prerequisite in an Epsom Classic is ability to handle Tattenham Corner, but that was not the purpose of the colt's public reconnaissance nine days ago. "We were never going to gallop him or anything," Dunlop explained. "He just had a waddle round. The main objective was to see how he handled it mentally. He was a real handful at the Craven, and for three of his five runs he has not had to leave Newmarket. My dad tells me that Noel Murless said they would only ever go down the hill once, and I never took Ouija Board or Snow Fairy there. But I took this one, purely for his brain."Reuse content