A busy couple of weeks up and down the country. Here are a few things that occurred to me along the way.
The Oaks and Derby waters are almost as muddy as they were when the trials season started with the horses at the heads of both markets Sir Dragonet and Mehdaayih both needing to be supplemented.
The horse that made the single biggest impact on me was Sir Dragonet who even seems to have taken Ballydoyle by surprise, to the extent that he was taken out of the Derby for the want of £1,100, which will now cost £85,000 to rectify.
I really can’t see the French Derby being a realistic next port of call. The shorter trip, coupled with the fact it can often be a falsely run race, means he could end up in a very poor place tactically.
The Irish Derby looks a far more natural stage in his development as if he still shows a little of the inexperience, he displayed in the early stages at Chester he will have far more time and space to recover than at either Epsom or Chantilly.
Sometimes as a horse grasps the idea of racing their run styles and energy distributions can change markedly but it will still be a tough ask to expect him to have the track craft to be positioned by preference rather than circumstance next time out.
He appeals as the best middle distance 3yo seen so far but it may take longer into the season for him to become the finished article, understandable given that he didn’t make his racecourse debut until the end of April just six weeks before the Investec Derby is due to take place.
The Dante at York was the most fascinating trial due to the way it played out tactically. Turgenev and Telecaster did go quite hard for the first half mile but it seemed to lull the others into a false sense of security that they would definitely come back and so several towards the rear of the field spurned the opportunity to close when the leading pair got a significant breather in around the home turn.
Watch how Telecaster defeated Too Darn Hot in the Dante
As a result, those in the rear were caught well out of their ground and Surfman in particular is well worth upgrading.
He actually ran the two fastest furlongs of the race at 10.96 and 10.98 between the 4f and 2f points but was far too far back in a race that had not been run at an end to end gallop.
He is a big strong sort with plenty of scope to progress though, like Sir Dragonet, the Derby will be coming plenty soon enough.
Telecaster, who like Sir Dragonet was taken out of the Derby and now needs supplementing, benefitted from the pause in the pace under a well judged Oisin Murphy ride, but will likely have the mass Coolmore ranks to contend with at Epsom and a similar breather in the Derby may be harder to achieve.
Telecaster does have good tactical speed and a stout pedigree and could well still make the frame if connections decide to stump up the cash and run, while John Gosden immediately ruled Too Darn Hot out of the Derby, though it seemed plausible it was as much lack of condition as lack of stamina that found him out on the Knavesmire, and I wouldn’t be rushing to back him for the St James’s Palace.
While 12f may be too far, Too Darn Hot did a fair bit of running off an interrupted preparation to challenge Telecaster at York and 10f may still prove to be his best trip based on how strong he was at the finish of his juvenile races. Of more concern is whether others with more scope will catch him up physically.
Invincible Army and Crystal Ocean both look well up to competing in Group One company down the line, whilst it is worth running through the replay of the Marygate at York a few times for a few juvenile clues.
Galadriel and Separate both caught the eye and it was worthy of note that the Newcastle race on Good Friday won by Lady Kermit and the Newmarket juvenile race where winner Good Vibes was second to Chasing Dreams clearly look the strongest lines of form amongst the juvenile fillies so far having both been given a big boost in the Marygate by the principals.
Finally, Raise You’s win at Newmarket on Saturday meant that he became the fifth horse of the front six home in his maiden win at Newbury on April 13 to win next time out.
The only one left is Ocean Paradise (who was second that day) who runs in the 8.00 race at Windsor on Monday night so could complete the set.
That is a line of form, even for those well down the field, that is worth keeping a very close eye on in the weeks to come.
Here are a few hopefully worth keeping an eye on for Tuesday:
Small stables who suddenly hit patches of good form are often profitable avenues as their historically low strike rates often ensure their horses go off over the odds.
Stella Barclay has only saddled two winners from 129 runners, but the form figures for her last four runners read 1324.
Sharrabang is limited but has shown enough since moving into handicaps to be competitive and has the assistance of capable 5lb claimer Sean Davis.
Turned out swiftly after running well behind the very promising Migration at Newmarket last Thursday.
Stall two is ideal for his stalking run style and the return to the All-Weather should be no problem as both his victories have come at Chelmsford.
Took a step forward when moving into handicaps at Ascot last time and, with this being only her fifth career start, then there should be more to come, especially as she was forced to come from the rear that day after blowing the start.
A half-sister to the very smart Racing Post trophy winner Elm Park and useful Brorocco, a win would significantly enhance her own paddock value.
Off the ceiling mark of 55, Antico Lady looked likely to be suited by the step up in trip when placed here over seven furlongs in April in a race which has proved solid for the grade, with a subsequent winner and two placed horses amongst her rivals that day.
The majority of her rivals look pretty moderate and she has been found a good opportunity to get off the mark.