Cracksman put a marker down ahead of the Derby last month when he was successful in the Investec Derby Trial. The John Gosden-trained colt carried the silks of Anthony Oppenheimer, who owned the 2015 Derby winner Golden Horn, to victory. Gosden tends to favour the Derby Trial at one of the leading UK racecourses, Epsom Downs in Surrey, rather than the other notable three-year-old races early in the campaign. He is now the leading trainer in the contest with five victories. The former Champion Trainer has been successful in each of the last three runnings now as Christophermarlowe came out on top in 2015 and in 2016 So Mi Dar beat his rivals to claim the race. Unlike the Grand National at Aintree, where stamina is the key factor, the thoroughbreds who enter the Derby have to be able to handle the unique course at Epsom and have the speed to outpace their rivals in the closing stages of the contest. Here is a look at some of the horses who ran in the Epsom Trial and an assessment of their chances of coming out on top in the most prestigious Classic run in the UK.
On the evidence of the Investec Derby Trial alone, Cracksman has to be considered as one of the leading contenders for the Derby next month where he is the 10/1 joint-second favourite with online bookies who make the Aidan OíBrien-trained Churchill their 5/1 market leader. The worry for backers of Cracksman will be that only one horse in the previous 78 years has been able to win this Trial and then go onto score in the Derby and that was Blue Peter in 1939. The Dante Stakes at York which takes place later this month, on the other hand, has produced six winners in the last 25 years.
Cracksman is unbeaten in his two racecourse starts so far. He broke his maiden on his debut at Newmarket last October where he was successful in a 10-runner field by just over a length ahead of Wild Tempest. Frankie Dettori jumped on board at Epsom for the first time and took a keen hold early into the race. The horse found more than his rivals inside the final furlong to capture the prize. Dettori is bidding for his third Derby winner this year on the horse after he was successful in 2007 with Authorized and two years ago on board Golden Horn. Gosdenís colt is bred by arguably the greatest turf horse in history in Frankel who is looking for his first Classic victory as a sire. Cracksman has a very strong chance of being that runner when he lines up at Epsom on Derby day in June.
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Leading flat trainer Mark Johnston has yet to win the Derby but he will be hoping Permian can go one place better than in the Trial at Epsom. The three-year-old, who was ridden by Franny Norton, only has a short head to find on Cracksman. At present Permian does not have an entry into the 2017 Investec Derby as he was not one of the 416 yearlings entered in 2015 therefore connections will have supplement their horse if they feel he can be competitive in the 1m4f Classic. Johnstonís colt would be one of the most experienced runners in the field as he has already had eight racecourse outings. He won on his debut at Kempton last June, while he also had wins at Windsor and Ripon as a two-year-old. The son of Teofilo has yet to score in two starts in 2017 though, so would need to massively improve at Epson if he was to win the Derby.
Youmkin was fancied to go well at Epsom in the Trial but the Godolphin-owned colt could only finish sixth in a disappointing run. Saeed bin Suroorís runner hit the front early into the 1m2f contest but weakened inside the final couple of furlongs.
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The bookmakers have pushed Youmkin out to 25/1 in their Derby betting. The disappointing outing in the Trial isnít likely to be enough to put connections off taking their chance in the Classic though. Godolphin like to have a number of options in the race and the son of Street Cry should be one of them. Godolphin have never won the Derby, which is the biggest race in flat racing and like the Grand National on the jumps calendar, is broadcast on terrestrial television. Their best chance could be with 10/1 shot Barney Roy who is trained by Richard Hannon and won the Greenham Stakes on his most recent start at Newbury.
This yearís Derby will feature on ITV after the channel won the rights to broadcast the sport on terrestrial television in 2017 and through to the end of 2020. It will take place on June 3 on their main channel.