Our racing tipster likes a trio of runners at Epsom this afternoon.
The Derby Trial at Epsom this afternoon (due off 2.30pm) is unlikely to have much of a bearing on the main event back here in June, but it’s an interesting contest nonetheless.
John Gosden has won it three times in recent years and has surprisingly entered a filly, So Mi Dar, this time round. A beautifully bred daughter of triple Group 1-winning mare Dar Re Mi, she won a Windsor maiden on her racecourse debut last October and middle distances ought to be right up her street this season. The 5lb sex allowance she receives here is a help to her cause against the colts and it will be fascinating to see how she gets on.
However, she might still find at least one too good and the Aidan O’Brien-trained CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI looks the one to be on. A brother to Lush Lashes, who won three Group 1s for Jim Bolger, he won a mile maiden at Leopardstown quite nicely on his second start of this season and is another who ought to relish the step up in trip. With his stable making a far brighter start to the season than is normally the case – nine winners from 41 runners (22%) in Ireland – he is going to prove a tough nut to crack with Ryan Moore doing the steering.
I’ll be surprised if he’s the stable No.1 hope on the first Saturday in June, with stablemate US Army Ranger already as short as 5/1, but a comfortable win this afternoon would likely see his current odds of 20/1 (Hills) shrink considerably.
He’s not much of a price, admittedly, but the other two selections are and the Ali Stronge-trained AGENT GIBBS is a very tasty 12/1 in the Great Metropolitan Handicap over an extended 1m4f (3.05pm). That trip looks ideal for the four-year-old who found 1m6f stretching his stamina at Wolverhampton last time, having been given his usual positive ride, and would have needed the run (his first since last October) besides. He should come on plenty for it.
A progressive handicapper last season when he won four times in a period of a little over two months, he has the scope to keep on improving this term and this is very much his trip, with his handicap record over 1m2f-1m4f reading 1111 (4-4). Even more eye-catching is the booking of Silvestre De Sousa to ride as the Brazilian is 2-2 on him and 100% on all the stable runners.
The reigning champion jockey also gets the leg up on the Mark Johnston-trained BYRES ROAD in the closing 1m handicap (4.50pm) and I fancy he can boot home another winner, albeit at the shorter price of 3/1. A winner of a mile maiden at Chelmsford back in January, the three-year-old then ran a stinker from the front over 1m2f at the Doncaster Lincoln meeting, finishing stone last, but looked much happier dropped back to this trip under a more patient ride when a close second at Ripon last time.
That was just six days ago but the stable runners are always supremely fit and can take their racing. The handicappers in particular are as tough as old boots and tend to keep on improving as the season progresses, so I’d be amazed if the selection can’t rate a good deal higher than his current mark of 80 before the handicapper finally catches up with him. With fitness on his side and his ability to handle the conditions proven, he must go close this afternoon.