GOLDEN Horn ran out a thoroughly impressive winner of the Betfred Dante at York, but whether he takes his place in the Derby remains unclear.
William Buick’s mount was the perceived second string of John Gosden’s two runners, going off at odds of 4-1 as opposed to 2-1 favourite and stablemate Jack Hobbs, with both colts unbeaten heading into the key Derby trial. However, Golden Horn showed an excellent switch of gears to collar leader Elm Park, surging past Jack Hobbs in the process, with the trio pulling well clear of the rest.
The Anthony Oppenheimer-owned winner does not currently hold an engagement in the Investec Derby, and Gosden said afterwards: “It’s very much up to Mr Oppenheimer (whether Golden Horn goes to Epsom). He’s been very firm with me that he’s a mile-and-a-quarter horse and he told me that all along, so we will see.”
Outsider Lord Ben Stack set the early gallop, with Elm Park racing keenly on his heels, but when push came to shove, Andrea Atzeni began to assert on the latter, winner of the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October.
Jack Hobbs was primed to strike on his outside, while Golden Horn was tucked in on his heels, as Buick timed his run to perfection, scoring by two and three-quarter lengths.
Buick said: “That was a very good performance from a very good horse. He keeps progressing. He switched off well. It was a very good race, an even pace and he’s a very exciting horse.
“To ride a horse like this is what it’s all about, he’s got so many gears – it’s just point and shoot. He’s come forward from Newmarket (Feilden Stakes) and that was only his third run, so you could see a lot of improvement.”
Gosden added: “The jockey felt Golden Horn finished strongly today. He’s a horse who has really come on since he won the Feilden Stakes. When he won the Feilden, we said we’d come to the Dante and that’s what we’ve done.
“His work on Friday was superb. Coming up on the train today, I knew they could well be first and second, but I half felt this guy is the professional at the moment. Jack was rather wide all the way and then babyish and wondering what to do.
“I’m delighted with Jack’s run and I think the third horse (Elm Park) gives you a very solid benchmark of form. He’s a Group One horse and the fourth was a long way back.
“Jack Hobbs could go to Epsom or the King Edward VII (at Royal Ascot). He won his handicap off 85 doing handstands, so I would just like to think about it.”