Friday 23 March 2018

British take plunge on 'Ocean' to redeem season

Trainer John Gosden. Photo: Julian Herbert/PA
Trainer John Gosden. Photo: Julian Herbert/PA

Johnny Ward

Obliterated at Cheltenham, in both Flat Classics and very much second-best in the Derby trials, British racing could do with a saviour.

And it may be that hopes rest on today's Betfred Dante Stakes contender Crystal Ocean, a son of Sea The Stars which developed into something of Derby gamble after scoring readily at Nottingham. Today, in meeting Cracksman, he takes a step up in grade.

Aidan O'Brien runs Exemplar, a little-hyped colt which may well be in this race to give Coolmore and his trainer a guide to the best of what is left of the British-based horses. He is unlikely to participate at Epsom, having just his first run of the term now.

"He is a grand colt, just ready to start off the season, and he handles an ease," O'Brien said.

Most eyes are on the home hosts here. Cracksman, however, is not a certain runner, says trainer John Gosden. He will walk the course early this morning before making a decision as to whether he would take his place in the Dante line-up.

"I'm staying not very far from here. "I need to talk to (the owner) and we'll take a decision," said Gosden.

"There aren't any other options if we want to get another race into him so we'll probably go to Epsom for a sausage at the Breakfast With The Stars (where he can have a gallop)."

Gosden's Shutter Speed shrugged off pre-race ground concerns to stamp her class on the Musidora Stakes yesterday. Heavy rain on the Knavesmire turned the ground soft and her trainer walked the track prior to letting her take her chance.

The early pace, set by Miss Infinity, was steady at best and while Shutter Speed settled nicely for Frankie Dettori, she wanted to go quicker.

Taking up the running fully two furlongs out, she did not quicken up as smartly as she has done previously in the soft ground and Hugo Palmer's once-raced Vintage Folly kept her up to her work to be beaten a length and three-quarters by the 4/7 favourite.

Shutter Speed beat stablemate and fellow Khalid Abdullah-owned filly Enable at Newbury last month, meaning connections have two leading chances for the Oaks, according to the market.

However, the team had previously expressed doubts about Shutter Speed's ability to stay 12 furlongs and Dettori thinks the 10-furlong Prix de Diane could be a better option for the Dansili filly.

Dettori said: "We got away with it. The ground is very soft and she didn't like it and it dented her turn of foot, but she was much the best horse in the race. It was hard work for her.

"We got away with that and I think you will see a better horse on better ground on a better day.

"She is top drawer. She has got a lot about her and everything she does is very classy. I would say that a mile and a quarter is just about right for her."

Irish Independent

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