The Epsom Picture

May 14th, 2017 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

I wasn’t surprised to see Sobetsu win the Prix Saint-Alary at Deauville this afternoon.

Apart from Coronet she was the filly that most interested me, having impressed when winning her maiden by 10 lengths at Newmarket last September before finding things going against her next time out in the Group 1 Fillies Mile, where the ground was too fast and she was found afterwards to have a dirty scope.

Racing today on soft ground she was always handy and won by three lengths, looking by far and away the best filly in the field. Coronet struggled with the early pace, as she had in her two races last season, and stayed on to finish a well-beaten third. She is crying out for at least a mile and a half, possibly further. The winner has the same cross as Coronet – by Dubawi out of a Darshaan mare – and I confidently expect her to stay the Oaks trip comfortably.

Trainer Charlie Appleby says that her participation at Epsom will depend on the ground, as she must have a little ease underfoot.

Shortly afterwards Brametot got up close home to win the Poule d’Essai des Poulains by a short-head from Le Brivido, with the English challenger Rivet three lengths back in third.

Looking back to Chester I am not sure how anyone can have been impressed with the performance of Cliffs Of Moher in the Dee Stakes.

I accept that he was only just ready for a run, but it took him over a furlong to get past Bay Of Poets, while the proximity in third of the 95-rated Max Zorin holds the form down. By Galileo out of a Dansili mare, he will improve for the step up to a mile and a half.

It looks to me as if the key guide to the Derby will, as is so often the case, be the Dante Stakes next week at York. On that subject I am not surprised to see a gamble has developed on Crystal Ocean, about whom I have written favourably both here and in my publications.

The colt’s performance in a maiden that took place on a quiet Saturday evening at Nottingham seems to have slipped under most people’s radar, but the success of runner-up Okool at the same course last week gave the form a timely boost.

Crystal Ocean is currently rated on 89, so he has up to 24lb to find with the best of the rivals entered for next week’s race, but judging by the weekend support which saw his odds tumble from as big as 12/1 to 7/2 (and also for the Derby), I think we can assume he has pleased Sir Michael Stoute at home.

With Cracksman, Permian, Benbatl and seven entries for Aidan O’Brien to choose from this year’s Dante Stakes promises to be as significant as ever, with the winner very likely to earn immediate promotion to Derby favouritism.

Wednesday’s Musidora Stakes looks far less competitive, with Shutter Speed already at prohibitive odds of 1/3 to beat a small field. Even if she wins she is not certain to run at Epsom due to concerns about her stamina, a view with which I concur. I would suggest, at this stage, that stable-companion Enable is the more likely of the two to line-up, having won over a distance just short of the trip at Chester last week.

In fact, with Rhododendron heading the market and Enable a steady second favourite, the Oaks may turn out to be a higher quality race than the Derby.

Bye for now