Hartnell the one to beat in Investec Derby Trial
Hartnell’s proven form on soft ground makes him the one they all have to beat in the Investec Derby Trial at Epsom today (2.50).
Trained by the in-form Mark Johnston, the colt showed progressive form as a juvenile when winning three times.
All of those victories came on soft ground, and that is a massive plus with overnight rain making conditions testing at the Surrey venue.
Hartnell is also officially rated 12lb and upwards clear of his rivals, and his third in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud when last seen in action sets a very high standard in this conditions contest.
Dark Ruler is another who will relish the underfoot conditions in the 1m 4f handicap (2.20).
Alan Swinbank’s five-year-old has only had 14 starts, and winning three times and coming placed on five occasions from 11 runs on the turf.
The son of Dark Angel made a winning return to action in the mud at Doncaster when staying on well to fend off High Office, and backed that up with a solid second of 14 to Elidor at Thirsk last time out.
Judge on those efforts, Dark Ruler is still improving and capable of defying a career-high mark of 83.
Resurge is a real course specialist who figures on a handy mark in the City And Suburban Handicap (3.25).
The Stuart Kittow trained nine-year-old has won four times over course and distance, with the last of those successes coming on his seasonal reappearance last season in a valuable handicap off a mark of 94.
The veteran now gets into this off 2lb lower, and with proven form on the ground and a good record fresh a huge run looks assured.
In the mile handicap that closes the card (4.35), Mime Dance holds leading claims of landing the spoils.
The son of Notnowcato opened his account at the fourth time of asking as a juvenile when running on strongly to beat Thatchereen over 7f at this track on soft ground.
Andrew Balding’s charge than ran really well to finish a neck runner-up to Juan Alonso in a handicap at this venue , and looks the type who could have plenty more to offer this season.
2.20: Dark Ruler
2.50: Hartnell (NAP)
4.35: Mime Dance (NB)