SIR DRAGONET can become a knight to remember by winning the Derby at Epsom (3.35).
Unraced at two he showed his potential when winning a Tipperary maiden on debut a little over five weeks ago. He stepped up on that form in great style when storming home, eight lengths clear of a decent field headed by stablemate Norway, in the Chester Vase.
That is traditionally a strong trial and one that master trainer Aidan O'Brien always targets as it is round a turning track, not dissimilar to Epsom, and over the full Derby distance. There are no stamina worries about Sir Dragonet.
Both his runs have been on softish ground but there is no reason to think that he needs cut. He has been relatively weak in the market for both his wins, indicating he shows little at home but comes alive on the racecourse – an admirable trait.
And connections, who with six other runners are not short of Derby types, still felt it worthwhile to shell out £85,000 to add Sir Dragonet to the field. He has plenty going for him.
O'Brien has two other major players in Broome, impressive at Leopardstown on his reappearance but less so last time, and Anthony Van Dyck, winner of the Lingfield Trial three weeks ago.
They should run well but both have been beaten four times and lack the star quality expected in a potential winner of the greatest Flat race. Japan stayed on well for fourth when making a belated return in the Dante but may be more of a Leger horse.
The Dante winner Telecaster, another supplementary entry who never raced as a two-year-old, looks best of the home team. He made his first appearance in a Doncaster maiden at the Lincoln meeting, where he chased home the more experienced Bangkok, the pair pulling miles clear of the rest.
Telecaster then bolted up at Windsor before staying on too strongly for star juvenile Too Darn Hot, since second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, at York. By a Derby winner, Dawn Approach, out of an Oaks runner-up, Hughie Morrison's ace will stay and will be hard to keep out of the frame.
Since his Doncaster win Bangkok has taken an average running of the Sandown Classic Trial beating Technician narrowly, the runner-up has gone on to be thrashed by Sir Dragonet at Chester so the conclusion is obvious.
I spy an eyecatcher…
At Sandown on Thursday Pontus was an impressive winner of the 1m2f novice, pulling five lengths clear of the battle for the places.
That was between the other three well-backed runners and NETTE ROUSSE, a 20-1 shot who was having just the second start of her career.
She finished a creditable third in a race that will produce plenty of winners. Ralph Beckett's filly seems sure to be one of them
Line Of Duty may have been flattered by his Group 1 win in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf as the best of the Americans go for the dirt races and he was very disappointing when only seventh in the Dante. He represents last year's winning trainer but that is one of the few positives for him.
Humanitarian is promising but has loads to find whilst Hiroshima, a 50-1 shot when eighth in the Lingfield Trial, has no chance.
That cannot be said of the only non-O'Brien trained Irish challenger, Madhmoon. He stayed on well for fourth in the 2,000 Guineas and easily beat Broome in a Group 2 last season. He is not a certain stayer but will be a big player if he gets the trip.
Earlier ZAAKI will be hard to beat in the Diomed Stakes at 3.10. He was gelded over the winter and showed improved form when returning at Ascot and beating Barney Roy with something to spare.
The runner-up has won since and the form looks reliable. Sir Michael Stoute's horses are in fantastic form and this race is not the greatest Group 3. Bye Bye Hong Kong beat Oh This Is Us when winning a Listed race at Windsor but this is tougher.
SOTO SIZZLER was way too hot for his rivals when landing the Great Metropolitan Handicap over the Derby course and distance in April and can follow up in the 5.15.
He readily beat Eddystone Rock, a winner since, by almost four lengths and should confirn that form on only 1lb worse terms. The handicapper has been fairly lenient with a 5lb hike and William Knight's four-year-old has more improvement to come. The Queen's Sextant is another potential improver but he is up 8lb for his Ascot win and may not be as well-suited to this unique track.
The best bet away from Epsom is KING OF TONGA in the 2.50 at Musselburgh. He was only just pipped by Richard Hannon's Motafaawit at Beverley on his reappearance (with five lengths back to the third) and that winner has since gone in again at Ascot – off a 7lb higher mark.
King Of Tonga runs here off 5lb higher from a good draw with a top 5lb-claimer on board. Like any horse he must be forgiven a moderate effort when fourth from a wide draw on bad ground at Chester.
Reeves was second to high-class SpaceBlues at York and is a big danger on that run but the poor form of trainer Robert Cowell is off-putting.
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