Investec Derby 2017 – Epsom contender Cracksman puts his Derby credentials on the line in the Dante Stakes at York




Cracksman must first put in a good performance at York on Thursday, but Gosden has already voiced his reservations over the Derby with it coming earlier than usual

JOHN GOSDEN admits he is slightly worried about the short gap between Thursday’s Dante Stakes and the Investec Derby for Cracksman. 

Gosden’s colt – who races in the same Anthony Oppenheimer colours as Golden Horn, who pulled off the Dante-Derby double in 2015 – is as short as 6-1 for the Classic at Epsom.

“Cracksman has only had two runs in his life,” said Gosden.


“The Dante is closer to the Derby than usual due to a late Easter. We’ve lost a week, which is not helpful.

“On the other hand, he needs the experience to race if we are even to consider Epsom.

PA: Archive

Cracksman (left) is as short as 6-1 for the Derby

“It’s the smartest trial, but I still see it as a trial. He came out of his last race and he learnt a lot.

“He has been in good order since.”

Jockey Frankie Dettori is hoping Cracksman learned plenty when he won the Derby Trial at Epsom three weeks ago.

Dettori believes Cracksman will have improved for his run at Epsom


Dettori believes Cracksman will have improved for his run at Epsom

Dettori added: “It was a workmanlike performance at Epsom, but the experience will have done him a world of good.

“I think he’ll have learned a lot. The Dante is probably the best trial – it looks a very competitive field – but he’s got to step up again to have a good chance at Epsom.”

Joseph O’Brien saddles Ballysax scorer Rekindling, who was with David Wachman last season.

“We were delighted with his reappearance on his first run for us. He’s a quite laid-back horse so it’s very hard to know how good he is,” said O’Brien.

“He never is a horse that sparkles at home, so you have to kind of take things for granted and look forward to him on the racecourse.

“He won one of the Derby trials in Ireland. At the minute, he has all the credentials to be an Epsom Derby candidate.

Joseph O'Brien

Getty Images

Joseph O’Brien never won the Dante as a jockey

“I suppose he has to go to York and show us that he is.”

Richard Fahey’s Forest Ranger won the £100,000 Burradon Conditions Stakes at Newcastle, denting some lofty reputations.

“It has been the plan all year for Forest Ranger to go to the Dante,” said Fahey.

Richard Fahey


Richard Fahey saddles Newcastle winner Forest Ranger

“We’ve got a small outside chance. I’m a fraction worried about the trip because he’s a horse with plenty of pace,”

Second at Newcastle was Kevin Ryan’s Acomb winner Syphax, who also lines up at York.


Syphax is one of four runners in the Godolphin blue, with Benbatl, Swiss Storm and Wolf Country also set to take their chance.

Is the QIPCO 2000 Guineas a good pointer towards a Derby winner?

The Mark Johnston-trained Permian represents Sheikh Mohammed’s son.

Godolphin racing manager John Ferguson said: “They are with five different trainers and, at the end of the day, it gives us the opportunity to work out whether or not we are going to go to Epsom.

“All the trainers are happy with their horses, or else they wouldn’t be going to the Dante, which is the premier Epsom trial.

“You’ve also got the Hampton Court over a mile and a quarter, the King Edward over a mile and a half and the Queen’s Vase over a mile and six, so you can use the Dante to sort out where you go with these horses.”



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