With no stand out performance coming from any of the established trials, this years renewal has a very open look to it, and indeed only one contender, Permian, with a Racing Post Rating of 114 comes anywhere near the 117 average rating achieved by all the winners of the Blue Riband in their previous race over the last quarter century. However even in the most open looking years, the market has proved a good guide, and Ruler Of The World’s starting price of 7/1 was the longest recorded this millennium.
Heading the market at the time of writing is the John Gosden trained Cracksman, and the Master of Clarehaven is hopeful that the son of the great Frankel, will deliver him a third success, following Benny The Dip (1997) and Golden Horn (2015). Cracksman won a mile Newmarket maiden on his debut last October, and kept his 100% record when getting up in the last stride to collar Permian in Epsom’s 10f Derby Trial in April. He just got the better of the subsequent Dante Stakes winner, looking as if he needed every inch of the 10f trip, but it’s worth noting that the time was nearly six seconds slower than standard, and on pedigree, Cracksman isn’t guaranteed to stay the extra two furlongs on Saturday. His sire Frankel never raced beyond 10 1/2f, and Cracksman’s half brother, Fantastic Moon, having won the 7f Solario Stakes as a 2yo, was never even placed in his subsequent six races, all run at around a mile. His dam Rhadegunda, by Pivotal, was very consistent, but never won beyond 11f, ( a listed race at Fontainebleau at the end of her 3yo career). With only the two runs under his belt the Gosden colt is very inexperienced, and with those doubts about his stamina, I’m not sure he deserves his position at the head of the market.
The short head runner up to Cracksman at Epsom, Permian, certainly isn’t short of experience. He is already the veteran of ten contests and to say the least has had a most unconventional preperation for a “Derby Horse”. A winner of a Windsor Nursery off a lowly 83 as a 2yo, he was beaten in a Bath handicap off a mark of 100 on his reappearance, but has been on a strong upward curve ever since. He followed his narrow defeat by Cracksman at Epsom by winning a listed 10f Newmarket contest with his head in his chest, and then took another significant step forward when winning that good Derby Trial, the 10 1/2f Dante Stakes, putting in all his best work at the finish. He is by that strong influence for stamina, Teofilo, a son of the great Galileo. Teofilo has already sired the winner of the Group1 Irish Derby, Trading Leather, and Pleascach, the winner of the 12f Group1 Yorkshire Oaks. He is also the sire of Quest For More who won a Chantilly Group1 over 2m4f. Clearly a strong influence for stamina there is also plenty of encouragement on the distaff that stamina won’t be a problem. He is out of the dual listed winning mare, Tessa Reef who has produced Samana Cay and Second Wave, both of whom have been placed at listed level over 10f. His top connections have supplemented this rapidly improving colt at a cost of £85,000 and come 4.45pm on Saturday it could look money well spent.
Aidan O’Brien is seeking a 6th win in the race, and fielding six sons of Galileo, who won in 2001 and has already sired three winners of the great race, New Approach, Ruler Of The World and Australia, has got a very strong hand indeed. Joint favourite at the time of writing, Cliffs Of Moher, looked a really exciting prospect when winning his second race, a Leopardstown Maiden, last October. He was more workmanlike than brilliant when winning the 10 1/2f Dee Stakes on his reappearance, but having coped well with the unique demands of the Roodeye, and the proximity of the huge crowds, it should make Epsom seem less daunting. His sires offspring stay well and there are stamina influences in the dams pedigree as well. He was putting in his best work at the finish at Chester and could find Epsom’s mile and a half right up his street.
The Martyn Mead trained Emminent made his racecourse debut a winning one when landing a Newmarket Maiden last September, and even then his style of running suggested that he would be suited by further. He reappeared in the Craven Stakes and, putting in all his best work again in the last furlong, he won well. He was sent off a 5/1 shot for the 2000gns but in a steadily run race finished 6th, 3 1/2L behind Churchill, which in view of the latter’s subsequent win in the Irish equivalent wasn’t a bad performance at all. On pedigree there are solid grounds to expect plenty of improvement from Emminent with a step up in trip. He is by Frankel whom himself is a son of Galileo and from the limited evidence his offspring do seem to stay well. On the distaff, Emminent’s dam, You’ll Be Mine, is a daughter of Kingmambo, and she looked a staying type when finishing 3rd in the Group1 Fillies Mile as a 2yo. She is a half sister to Diamondandrubies, winner of the Group1 10f Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh, and they’re both out of Quarter Moon, who was second in the 2002 Oaks. Considering his pedigree and his style of racing it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if Emminent became Frankels first classic winner.
Selection: Cliffs Of Moher