Racing: John Gosden keeps feet on the ground

JOHN GOSDEN insists “nothing is a given” as stunning Derby hero Golden Horn tests his powers against the older generation for the first time in today’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Frankie Dettori punches the air in delight after steering Golden Horn to victory in the Epsom Derby. Picture: Getty
Frankie Dettori punches the air in delight after steering Golden Horn to victory in the Epsom Derby. Picture: Getty

The Cape Cross colt looked every inch an Epsom contender when running out a brilliant winner of the Dante Stakes at York on his penultimate start and justified his place as Derby favourite with a brilliant display on the Downs in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

With his stable companion and York and Epsom runner-up Jack Hobbs claiming Classic glory himself in last weekend’s Irish Derby, Golden Horn is unsurprisingly a long odds-on favourite to add another Group One prize to his CV in this weekend’s feature event.

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However, Gosden feels his charge has more on his plate than the prices suggest. He said: “I have a lot of respect for The Grey Gatsby, looking at his form from last year and the form of his last race, finishing second in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

“Then you have the horse that finished third in the Queen Anne [Cougar Mountain], which is the best form around over a mile, so these are top older horses we’re taking on. I think the odds are a little bit unusual and I don’t think they’re representative of the chances the other horses have.

“I’ve no illusions about it. It’s a mile and a quarter on a track that can favour front-runners and against older horses. Nothing is a given.”

Despite his caution, the Clarehaven handler admits Golden Horn has done everything right at home since his Epsom heroics. “We talked at Epsom about wanting to go to Sandown and I’ve been happy with his work,” said Gosden. “He has a good constitution – his favourite two occupations are eating and sleeping. There’s no harm in that. He’s quite relaxed in his work. He’s lazy in his races sometimes as well, but he’s a grand horse.”

Golden Horn heads to Sandown having won each of his previous starts, but the pressure of protecting that unbeaten record is not something that concerns Gosden. He said: “I don’t let it [unbeaten record] bother me. Any horse can get beaten, it happened to Nijinsky, Kingman in the Guineas.

“If the horse’s ability is there and they’re in good form and come out of their races well, that matters to a trainer probably more than anything else.”

Golden Horn carries the colours of owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer, who was moved to tears in the winner’s enclosure at Epsom. He is looking forward to his colt’s latest challenge, but also describes the betting as “mad”.

“I believe he is developing and I believe he’s going extremely well,” Oppenheimer told At The Races. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic race. When you get only four or five runners, then it’s completely tactical, but it could be one of the most exciting races you’ll see all year. It’s anybody’s race. The betting is mad. They should all be almost the same price.”

Meanwhile, at Haydock today, Lady Cecil can claim a nice prize with Mighty Yar in her final season as a trainer, writes Glendale. The unexposed grey is a very decent animal on his day and looks an ideal sort for the yearly conundrum that is the bet365 Old Newton Cup.

Mighty Yar seldom lets the side down in big handicaps of this nature and appeared to be coming back to himself at Newmarket just a week ago.

The Teofilo entire was admittedly well beaten by Master The World in a mile-and-a-quarter handicap, but he made encouraging late gains to suggest this return to 12 furlongs is the way forward.

Even in spite of that sound effort, the handicapper has taken off another 2lb, which makes him an even more appealing prospect.

Mighty Yar finished a close second in a competitive York handicap last summer off the same mark of 94 and can again play a leading role if he puts his best foot forward.

At Newmarket last May, Cecil’s inmate claimed the scalp of Miss Marjurie, who can do her bit for the form by winning the bet365 Lancashire Oaks 35 minutes earlier.

Denis Coakley has a seriously sparky animal on his hands in this five-year-old mare, whose progress this summer has been nothing short of excellent.

Miss Marjurie is the highest-rated horse in the line-up for the Group Two and is well worth a stab at this grade if her Pinnacle Stakes success over course and distance is factored into the equation.