Recital's star to remain on rise
Despite yesterday's courtroom drama, this afternoon's Epsom Derby looks set to go ahead without a need for a late jockey change unless the British courts decide otherwise.
While Kieren Fallon awaits the result of a last-ditch appeal from Native Khan's owner, Ibrahim Araci, Aidan O'Brien will be keeping his fingers crossed that he takes the mount on Recital. After Wonder Of Wonders' narrow defeat in yesterday's Oaks, both the trainer and jockey will be out to gain quick compensation.
Carlton House, representing Michael Stoute, continues to head the market for the Group One after overcoming a midweek injury scare. He is entitled to be favourite. In the Dante Stakes at York, the Queen's runner quickened off a slow gallop to beat Seville, another of today's four-strong Ballydoyle team. With four of the last seven winners of the Derby having taken in the 10-furlong Dante, it is the most reliable trial.
That said, the way the Dante panned out this year, there was an emphasis on pace, and Carlton House also pulled extremely hard. Were there no stamina doubts about him over a mile and a half today, that might not be a problem -- but there are concerns.
His dam, Talented, never won beyond 10 furlongs in six tries, while just one of her seven progeny has done. But that one, Friston Forest, was by Barathea, a sire with stamina traits, something that can't be said of Carlton House's sire Street Cry.
From 68 winners on the Flat, Street Cry has been responsible for a mere three -- from 66 runs -- over 12 furlongs. His progeny excel at up to 10 furlongs, so there's a real possibility that Carlton House won't get home today, especially if he races keenly.
There are similar doubts about Native Khan over the trip. The French raider Pour Moi has been well backed, but Andre Fabre's Montjeu colt doesn't have the form for this and another son of Montjeu, Recital, might well be the best option at up to 9/2.
Granted, he didn't convince when he hit the front in the Derrinstown trial at Leopardstown, but the evidence of his previous run there, when he was beaten into third under exaggerated waiting tactics, points to a horse that has taken some educating to his task on the track.
Recital clearly improved in between those two outings, so it's reasonable to assume that he will do so again. If he does mature, he has plenty else in his favour. He is drawn in stall four, which will allow his rider to use the inside rail to help counter the horse's tendency to hang. In contrast, Carlton House's rider Ryan Moore will have his hands full to get cover from the widest draw in 13.
Crucially, Recital's sire has an excellent Derby record, having produced Authorized and Motivator to win the race, while Fame And Glory was denied only by Sea The Stars. The availability of Fallon, with his brilliant Epsom record, would obviously be a huge plus.
In the day's big handicap, the Epsom Dash, Falasteen can secure Dandy Nicholls his fifth win in the five-furlong contest in 10 years. Captain Dunne and Masamah probably have the best recent form, but both are burdened with plenty weight. Falasteen is unbeaten in two starts at Epsom, and showed when second at York last month that he's capable of competing off his current mark of 92. With the excellent William Buick set to ride, the 8/1 shot can bring up a hat-trick the Surrey venue.
Buick is also fancied to oblige on Rain Mac in the opening 10-furlong handicap. A maiden winner at Newmarket in September, that one confirmed its promise with a good third on its seasonal reappearance at York last month.
Rio De La Plata might have the class to concede weight in the Diomed Stakes. On official ratings, only the exposed Premio Loco comes out better.
Best bet: Recital