JOHN GOSDEN has made his customary strong start to the season and he looks to have an excellent chance of winning a third Investec Derby Trial in five years with MUSAWAMA this afternoon (3.10pm). Already a winner of his two races at Lingfield and Kempton this season, this race has always been the target for the son of Azamour and it doesn’t look the hottest renewal on paper.
Gosden’s strike rate in the past fortnight is an excellent 31.25% and we know that he likes to target this race with his three-year-olds. The Sheikh Hamdan-owned colt is the only one in the field with an Investec Derby entry, although that may be shooting slightly too high.
The one to beat is unquestionably the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Borug, who is rated 12lb higher than the selection and has been running in Dubai this winter. However, the yard often takes a while to get going and Musawama could have a fitness edge today. David Simcock’s Weapon Of Choice wouldn’t be out of it, but Slumber and Planet Waves both need to improve markedly.
You are advised not to blink during the Investec Asset Management Handicap (2.00pm) as 14 runners speed their way through the quickest five furlong course in Europe. There is a nice mixture of unexposed four-year-olds and old favourites in the line-up, but in bigger field sprints at Epsom, it nearly always pays to be drawn high against the stands rail.
The two who interest me in the field are SKYLLA and ARCHERS ROAD who are drawn 14 and 12 respectively. Richard Fahey’s stable is in top form and Skylla was a first-time out winner in 2009 for John Holt before finishing a well-backed third behind Captain Dunne and Secret Asset on her first start for Fahey last May. She clearly goes well fresh, and with a perfect draw, this could be the time to catch her.
David Barron excels with his sprinters and I would have been quite keen on the chances of Beat The Bell had he not been drawn in stall one. However, Archers Road is a more than capable deputy – he finished second to Hearts Of Fire in the Brocklesby on his debut and won first time out at Chester last May. Ryan Moore is an interesting booking.
Alan King isn’t the trainer you’d normally associate with Epsom, but in the 2.35pm he runs KINGS TROOP who is two from two over course and distance. He’s gone up in the weights since his last success here in September, but he clearly loves the place, has had prep runs over hurdles and Ryan Moore also takes this ride. Make sure you also keep an eye out for Gay Kelleway’s Hawaana who looked as though the step up to this trip would suit last time.
I would have been very interested in Gosden’s Taqleed in the Investec City and Suburban Stakes at 3.45pm if the rain had come, but there has to be a doubt that he’ll even run given the forecast conditions. Stablemate Beachfire has a big chance on the best of his form, but he is blinkered for the first time and is a quirky individual. I’ll therefore be backing Mark Johnston’s consistent SAND SKIER each-way with Frankie Dettori in the saddle.
Finally, Richard Hughes is coming here for one ride for his father-in-law Richard Hannon in the lucky last. GREENFLASH won well at Lingfield last time and the stable took this last year with Kajima.
SKYLLA e/w 2.00pm Epsom
ARCHERS ROAD e/w 2.00pm Epsom
KINGS TROOP e/w 2.35pm Epsom
MUSAWAMA 3.10pm Epsom
SAND SKIER e/w 3.45pm Epsom
GREENFLASH 4.50pm Epsom