LOVE this time of year as straight off the back of Chester, one of my favourite meetings, comes York.
York’s a brilliant track and the Dante meeting is so good, partly because it has the best Derby trial in the Dante.
I won the race three times, including with North Light who won the Derby.
The Dante just comes in nicely before the Derby, which is why it’s such a good trial.
You’d think the race at Lingfield would be the best trial as it’s left-handed and they run down the hill, but it’s a different kind of challenge to Epsom. It’s a gradual descent and then you swing in. At Epsom, it’s more of a sharp turn and you pop over a little hill and into the straight. A lot of horses come out of Lingfield sore – like they do at Epsom – so that’s why I always prefer York, Chester or the Derrinstown at Leopardstown as Derby trials.
Of the trials so far, I liked Rostropovich at Chester. He beat a good yardstick in My Lord And Master, who’d been second to my Dante fancy Crossed Baton in the Blue Riband at Epsom. I think he’ll have a real chance in the Derby.
I know everyone thinks Saxon Warrior is already passed the post but I’m not so sure. I mean, was he that impressive in the 2,000 Guineas?
The second horse in the Guineas was 50-1 and Masar didn’t look to improve on the Craven. There wasn’t that much between the first few home as they were in a bit of a heap. I think Saxon Warrior will have to improve to win the Derby.
I do really like York as a Derby prep as it just gets them peaked for Epsom and I think Crossed Baton has to be taken seriously for both races.
He’s a talented horse and there’s further improvement in him too. That’s the way John Gosden trains his horses. This is a horse I really like.
On Wednesday, the fillies compete in the Musidora Stakes and it looks a real open race.
Ralph Beckett is very good with his fillies and trains them to improve like Gosden does. I like the looks of his Ceilidhs Dream for the race.
My eye is drawn elsewhere on the York card to one of my favourite horses – Harry Angel in the Duke of York.
He’s a wonderful horse, but how disappointing is it that only six other horses run? It’s a real shame.
Harry Angel has a penalty to carry but he’s miles clear of the others. The only horse I think that can trouble him is Brando. He was seriously good at Newmarket and is the most likely to chase Harry Angel home.
As for the other big races this week, I think you won’t be far wrong for siding with John Gosden. He’s so good at getting his horses to progress and still peak for the day.
Coronet should win the Middleton Stakes, while Stradivarius is a proper horse in the Yorkshire Cup.
Stradivarius looked the sort to mature and do better this year. I think he’ll be a serious player in the Cup races this season.