NO TRAINER has started the Flat season in better form than John Gosden and he can land yet another success in this afternoon's Investec Derby Trial (2.45pm) at Epsom.
The Newmarket handler saddled 10 winners at Newmarket and Newbury last week, including both major Classic trials for fillies with Daban and Dabyah.
He is responsible for two of the eight runners in today’s 10-furlong prize, but the eye is very much drawn to CRACKSMAN, an unbeaten son of the legendary Frankel.
The Frankie Dettori-ridden colt carries the famous Oppenheimer colours, synonymous with Investec Derby winner Golden Horn, and lines up today having only ever seen a racecourse once before.
That win came in a decent-looking Newmarket maiden last October over a mile in what were quite testing conditions for a two-year-old.
Not only did he demonstrate a quite un-Frankel-like calmness in the preliminaries, he also showed terrific battling qualities to repel the late challenge of Godolphin’s Wild Tempest.
Gosden suggested immediately after that race that he would begin life as a three-year-old over 10 furlongs and, true to his word, that journey begins this afternoon.
Currently a best-priced 16/1 for glory in the Investec Derby itself, connections will be hoping he can follow in Golden Horn’s hoofprints back here in a little over five weeks.
His biggest danger this afternoon could well come from unbeaten stablemate Tartini, who also lines up on the back of a single two-year-old victory.
That said, he most definitely looks the stable’s second string and I’d be more afraid of Saeed bin Suroor’s Youmkin, who won his Nottingham maiden last October.
He had the Gosden-trained Face The Facts, who won at Newbury on the weekend, in behind him that day and also represents a stable in great form.
The Investec City And Suburban Handicap (3.50pm) looks a typically tricky Epsom puzzle to solve and genuine cases can be made for plenty of the 13 runners.
My eyes were immediately drawn to the Richard Fahey-trained Innocent Touch, who brings all important course form to the table having won readily here back in August.
With his stable in form and, having had the benefit of a pipe-opener at Pontefract a few weeks ago, he looks sure to go well.
That said, he has no secrets from the handicapper and I’d prefer to take a chance on the Andrew Balding-trained BROROCCO at the foot of the weights.
There aren’t many better light-weight jockeys around than Jimmy Quinn and he is an eye-catching booking.
Brorocco took plenty of time to get his act together last season, but his defeat of Wild Hacked at Newmarket in July looks pretty solid considering that one is now rated 22lbs higher.
Another victory at Yarmouth was then followed by three fair performances, but he was always going to improve with another winter to strengthen up.
He reappeared at Chelmsford a couple of weeks ago to prep him for this and ran eye-catchingly well when finishing just over three lengths behind Poet’s World.
The gaps didn’t open at the right time that day and the run would have put him spot on for a tilt at this decent prize.
He looks a decent each-way proposition in what is a typically wide-open contest.
Cracksman 2.45pm Epsom
Brorocco e/w 3.50pm Epsom