Cumani's Greatwood worth keeping onside over summer
THERE aren't too many trial races which live up to their name these days, and, other than Greatwood, not one of today's Derby Stakes Trial entries at Lingfield is any way prominent in the betting for the Epsom Classic on June 1.
Eight Lingfield Derby Trial winners have gone on to victory at Epsom, the most recent of which was Luca Cumani's High-Rise in 1998.
This year, though, the Derby Trial has been downgraded from Group Three status to Listed class, which explains in part why just five horses go to post today at 2.55.
Cumani appears to hold a very strong hand with the aforementioned Greatwood, which got off the mark in a maiden back in October under Kieren Fallon.
Not all two-year-olds can reproduce their form the following season aged three, but the colt showed plenty of improvement when narrowly beaten in a valuable sales race at Newmarket in April.
On that occasion, Fallon only stepped on the gas in the final furlong and he was unlucky to finish just a short-head behind Windhoek, which has since gone on to win a decent Listed race at Newmarket.
The step up to a little over a mile and three furlongs is almost certain to suit Greatwood and he's one to keep onside over the summer.
He's short enough in the betting at even-money, but with 5lb in hand on official ratings over nearest rival Nevis, he deserves his spot at the top of the market.
Nevis, a son of the Irish Oaks winner Moonstone, won a 10-runner maiden handy enough at Leopardstown last July at 4/6, but Aidan O'Brien was left disappointed when he could only manage second-last of seven runners on his latest start in September's National Stakes at the Curragh – a race won by Dawn Approach.
He may have improved at home over the winter, but I'm struggling to see why most bookmakers have him as short as 7/4 today.
Hughie Morrison's Another Cocktail is an interesting entry and could give Greatwood the most to do, priced around 11/2.
He finished strongly when second to Mirsaale in the Derby Trial at Epsom last time, and that followed a bloodless victory at 1/2 on the Polytrack here last month. He's likely to progress and it would be no surprise to see him in the thick of the action in the last 100 yards or so.
But backing even-money favourites won't pay many bills, so for a bit more value, consider Miss You Too at 5/1 in the Betfred 'The Bonus King' Oaks Trial Stakes earlier on the same card (2.20). This particular trial may actually give us some pointers, and Secret Gesture, which is 14/1 in places for the Epsom Oaks, is likely to go off as favourite here at 10/11.
A half-sister to the 1998 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sagamix, she has plenty of scope for development, but her short price is mostly down to progeny rather than her winning form in a maiden at Newmarket in October.
Certainly, her breeding suggests she'll be suited to the middle distances and she may well turn out to be a star, but I don't fancy taking an odds-on price based on what she's achieved so far.
Miss You Too is also bred to stay, and while she hasn't registered a win since taking a maiden at York back in July, she showed promise when third in a Group One at Saint-Cloud in her latest start in November.
LAST week's each-way selection, The Confessor, traded at 8/13 in-running but ran out of steam at the death and only managed third. At least some place money was returned, but here's hoping Highland Colori (14/1) can go a couple of places better in the Betfred Victoria Cup at Ascot (3.50) today.
Andrew Balding's five-year-old gave a reasonably good account of himself when fourth in a valuable handicap at Haydock recently, but the assessor has dropped him 2lb since, which could be enough to see him finish in the money.
2.20 Lingfield: Miss You Too
2.40 Ascot: Main Sequence
2.55 Lingfield: Greatwood
3.50 Ascot: Highland Colori (e/w)
3.55 Nottingham: Restiadargent