Epsom derby preview: Dante absentee Cracksman stars at Epsom ahead of Investec Derby

Bill Esdaile
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Epsom 'Breakfast With The Stars' Morning
Cracksman worked at Epsom Racecourse ahead of next Saturday's Derby (Source: Getty)

DERBY-WINNING trio Anthony Oppenheimer, John Gosden and Frankie Dettori were all present at Tuesday's Breakfast with the Stars event at Epsom Racecourse, this year represented by Cracksman.

Owned, trained and ridden by the same trio that celebrated Golden Horn's Classic success on the Downs two years ago, Cracksman was in the first pair of horses to take the left-handed descent around Tattenham Corner and stride up the undulating home straight.

Despite missing out on the Dante Stakes at York last week, bypassing the race due to the testing ground, Gosden reported the son of Frankel to be in good form.

"He's come on a lot. I'm happy with him this morning and he's full of himself in the stable yard," he said. "We didn't supplement him for fun in April. The mile and a half will be right up his alley."

Dettori, who rode Cracksman to victory in the Derby Trial at Epsom last month, was on hand to do the steering again and the Italian said: "It was routine stuff but it all went well."

Owner and breeder Oppenheimer revealed: "He comes from a fast female family, but everyone says he's going to stay. Frankie and John will tell you that he'll definitely stay."

Cracksman is currently the 4/1 joint-favourite in an open-looking renewal of the 1m 4f Classic.

He's joined at the head of the betting by Cliffs Of Moher, just one of a likely seven horses in the race for Aidan O'Brien.

The Irish handler dialled in from Ballydoyle to confirm his intention to field Dee Stakes winner Cliffs Of Moher, Chester Vase 1-2-3 Venice Beach, Wings Of Eagles and the The Anvil, as well as the first three home in the Derrinstown, Douglas Macarthur, Yucutan and Capri.

O'Brien said: "There's a good chance that all seven horses could get to Epsom."

Cliffs Of Moher looks to be the pick of the bunch and he added: "We were very happy with him in Chester and I think he's going to improve."

Martyn Meade was present to perfect his preparations for Derby hopeful Eminent. The Craven Stakes winner worked with Solo Hunter and his trainer was very pleased.

"I was absolutely thrilled – it couldn't have gone any better," Meade said.

Jim Crowley, who has partnered Eminent on all three of his career starts, was equally happy with the gallop: "I had a job to pull him up and he gave me the same sort of feel that he gave me when going to the post for the Craven that day."

Godolphin also look set to assemble a strong team of horses for the big race and their racing manager, John Ferguson, was present to talk through plans.

Ferguson said: "At this stage we have five names on team sheet and they all have genuinely legitimate chances."

Ferguson confirmed those five to be Best Solution, Bebatl, Best Of Days, Dubai Thunder and Permian.

Permian, a general 10/1-shot, was supplemented after winning the Dante and Ferguson feels he will be in the shake-up at Epsom.

"A horse like Permian has improved so much. From when he ran here and improved again to win at Newmarket and then improved again to win the Dante. I think he's a horse with a really, really big chance," he added.

The general consensus among the cognoscenti in the build-up to this Derby is that there are plenty who are in with a shout.

In the absence of 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill, the bookies can't make their mind up on a favourite either, and we could well see a maximum field of 20 runners bid for Flat racing's most famous prize a week on Saturday.

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