Author: Alan Kelly
2015 Investec Derby
Published: 12:10 05/06/2015
Of all the trials for the 2015 Epsom Derby one stands head and shoulders above the rest, the race in question being York's Dante Stakes in which the John Gosden-trained unbeaten colt Golden Horn ran out an impressive winner from his highly-regarded stablemate Jack Hobbs and last season's Group 1 winning juvenile Elm Park.
The thirteen length gap to the consistent Nafaqa back in fourth place gives the one mile two and a half furlong contest a solid look to it that none of the other trials can match, giving the impression that the Knavesmire played host to the next winner of the world's most famous Flat race, the big question being - which one?
A strong case can be made in favour of the first three horses home - the most persuasive being that of Golden Horn who is now a top price 7-4 with Betway to make it four wins from four starts on Saturday afternoon, a price which makes little appeal considering the serious doubts surrounding the son of Cape Cross's ability to last out the extra furlong and a half of the Derby trip.
The third horse home Elm Park has been towards the head of the Derby ante-post market since running out an easy winner of Doncaster's Racing Post Trophy last year and should come on for his seasonal reappearance in York's Derby trial, but it was the runner-up there Jack Hobbs who created the biggest impression, and the Halling gelding is fancied to reverse the form with his stable companion to claim the ultimate prize for his connections providing he is allowed to take his chance due to the possibility of fast ground.
Unlike Golden Horn, Jack Hobbs should relish the Derby trip of a mile and a half and can improve significantly for that York outing, his third career start but the first time he had been asked any sort of question. A minor victory on the all-weather at Wolverhampton as a juvenile would have taught the horse very little, just like his win in a Sandown handicap off a rediculously lenient mark of 85 on his seasonal reappearance.
At the recent Breakfast With The Stars Jack Hobbs, while only given a chance to familiarise himself with the Epsom course, looked much more professional than he had done on the Knavesmire and we can expect to see a more polished performance on his fourth start making the 11-2 available with Betbright a decent value bet. For those looking for a lively outsider the French-trained Epicuris has gone under the radar a little considering Criquette Head-Maarek's colt was Group 1 winner at two and possibly unsuited by the testing conditions on his first run of the season at Longchamp. The 20-1 on offer with BetVictor could prove to be too big shortly after 4.30 on Saturday afternoon.
1 Point each-way Jack Hobbs 9-2 bet365
0.5 Point each-way Epicuris 20-1 BetVictor