Newmarket’s Investec Derby picture looks set to become much clearer over the coming days with trials at York and HQ.
Given that 10 of its winners have gone on to clinch the main prize at Epsom, all eyes will be fixed firmly on today’s Betfred Dante Stakes up in Yorkshire.
John Gosden has the favourite in Cracksman, who is a 7/1 shot to go on and wrap up the double on Saturday, June 3.
The unbeaten Frankel colt has the advantage of having won at Epsom in April, though he needed every yard of the one mile and two furlongs to get the job done.
Ahead of the Dante, owner Anthony Oppenheimer played down Cracksman’s chances in Yorkshire and Gosden was content to follow suit.
“Anthony will not mind me saying this — he is either very optimistic or very pessimistic, bordering on realistic,” said the trainer, who has won the race in each of the last two years with Golden Horn and Wings of Desire.
“I am happy to be ringing the bell of caution because this is a smart race, but is still only a trial, so we do not want to run him too hard.
“There is a quite a bit of rain expected and he will not be in love with the soft ground.
“He proved he can handle the track at Epsom and it is a shame that the Dante is so close to the Derby, but I felt he needed one more run for experience.”
While Cracksman will be bidding to prove his credentials, Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean will be looking to enhance his.
Victory over 10 furlongs in Nottingham last month saw a surge of money for the three-year-old in The Derby betting market.
Godolphin will also have a quartet of runners in York, including David Elsworth’s Swiss Storm and Charlie Appleby’s Wolf Country.
Appleby, meanwhile, has confirmed that Sobestsu will swerve Epsom’s Investec Oaks in favour of the Prix de Diane in Chantilly.
Sheikh Mohammed has taken the decision after the filly won by three lengths at Deauville on Sunday.
Back on the Derby trail, Saturday’s Newmarket Listed Betway Fairway Stakes will feature Call To Mind, owned by The Queen and trained by William Haggas.
The Galileo colt won by a head last time out Newbury.