Epsom preview: Investec Derby (16.30)
Epicuris looks decent each-way value in a wide open renewal of the Investec Derby at Epsom (16.30).
The French challenger is trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, who is aiming to be the first female trainer to win the premier Classic, and has won three of his four starts.
Epicuris was unbeaten as a juvenile, and looked a top notch prospect when impressively landing the he Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 1m 2f.
Fame And Glory won the same race before going on to finish a cracking runner-up to the sensational Sea The Stars in the 2009 running of the Derby, and although Epicuris got turned over at odds-on when runner-up in the Prix La Force at Longchamp he looked in need of the outing and was tenderly handled.
The Khalid Abdullah-owned Rail Link colt is entitled to come on a bundle for that outing, and Head-Maarek’s exploits with dual Arc winner Treve show her outstanding skills at getting a horse primed to perfection for the big day.
Epicuris is also a strong traveller who likes to race up with the pace, and with stamina assured looks to hold leading credentials of providing France with it’s 11th winner of the Group 1 contest.
Trainer John Gosden saddles two leading contenders in Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs, and the former heads the market and brings the strongest form into the contest.
Golden Horn is unbeaten in three starts and shot to the head of the betting when producing a stunning turn of foot to easily beat Jack Hobbs by 2 3/4 lengths in the Group 2 Dante Stakes over 1m 2f at York last month.
That race has proved a key trial for the Derby, but Golden Horn is not certain to stay 1m 4f and I can see Jack Hobbs getting much closer or even turning the tables.
Prior to the Dante, Jacks Hobbs was unbeaten in two starts and has posted a devastating display to land a handicap at Sandown by 12 lengths.
The son of Halling travelled powerfully throughout, and after challenging out wide on the bridle three from home showed a blistering turn of foot to power clear and put the race to bed.
Although it was only a handicap it was the manner of the success marked him out as something special and the race was the quickest of the day on the round course.
To me, Jack Hobbs is still maturing and lost little in defeat in the Dante, and with stamina not an issue a big run looks assured.
Others worthy of a mention are Giovanni Canaletto, one of three runners for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien who is bidding to win the race for the fourth year in succession, and Success Days.
The later is an improving sort trained by Ken Condon, and has won Ireland’s two pre-eminent trials for the race this season – the Ballysax Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.