Cracksman set for Epsom exam
John Gosden is more hopeful than confident about the chances of Cracksman providing him with a third Investec Derby success at Epsom on Saturday.
It is 20 years since the Clarehaven maestro broke his Derby duck with Benny The Dip and he added to his tally with the brilliant Golden Horn in 2015.
Like Golden Horn, the unbeaten Cracksman carries the colours of owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer, but Gosden feels his latest candidate's claims are not quite as strong.
He said: "I think it's a terribly open race. When Golden Horn came here he was a legitimate favourite. The only thing that was going to beat him was the trip but he saw it out well.
"We like this horse a lot but he is a different type altogether to Golden Horn, who was a very strong favourite ."
Despite Gosden's caution, Cracksman is disputing favouritism with most bookmakers.
The son of Frankel won his only start as a juvenile at Newmarket and gained valuable experience of Epsom when narrowly beating subsequent Dante winner and fellow Derby contender Permian in a trial on the Downs in April.
Cracksman was due to contest the Dante before being withdrawn on the day of the race due to the rain-softened ground at York.
"He has run around Epsom before and run well. He got pocketed, but picked up a nice horse (Permian) who was race-fit and streetwise," Gosden said.
"I didn't fancy running him just 16 days out from the Derby in testing conditions. I didn't think that would do him any good.
"He's out of a nice mare (Rhadegunda) who was tough – she comes from a lovely family and there is stamina on her side.
"Cracksman is a long-striding colt and I think the mile and a half will be right up his alley. We didn't supplement him for fun in April.
"This horse deserves to be, along with three or four others, 3-, 4- or 5-1. The Frankie (Dettori) factor will cause him to shorten up on the day.
"It's a fabulous race. It's a big field, like the old days. Aidan (O'Brien) is putting some beautifully-bred colts in and one of them could just be 'the' horse.
"To me, it's a fascinating Derby."
Dettori, who memorably opened his Derby account aboard Authorized a decade ago before also steering Golden Horn to victory, feels Cracksman has plenty going for him.
He said: "He's a horse we have only run twice and we expect him to improve.
"What happened at Epsom was a blessing. It was a slowly-run race. He had to move out quicken and do a lot of things.
"He answered every call and it was great to see the second horse win the Dante.
"It gives me a lot of confidence going into the race that we have a horse that can be very competitive and go to war. I am excited.
"He is not Golden Horn yet by any means but potentially he could be anything and a week Saturday we will find out."
Reflecting on Golden Horn's success, the popular Italian added: "I've stated many times that in my 30-year career it is the biggest emotion I have had. I think it would be very difficult to top it.
"It is nerve-racking. A lot of thought, concentrating and planning goes into it.
"The track is very challenging. It's not the best day, it's the most difficult.
"It's only the best day if you win it, but that's what makes the Derby a unique race."
Cracksman is one of five runners for Gosden.
Last week's Cocked Hat Stakes winner Khalidi, Windsor handicap scorer Crowned Eagle, Lingfield Derby Trial runner-up Glencadam Glory and Southwell victor Pealer make up the squad.
"They represent different owners and they are all keen to run and be part of it. It's one of those years where you shouldn't be frightened of running," said the trainer.
"The owner of Khalidi phoned me on Sunday and said he wanted to supplement. It's only eight days between the races but he wanted to do it and that's fine.
"Glencadam Glory ran a very nice race at Lingfield. The other two horses are bred to stay and both come off winning runs so they deserve to take their chance."
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