Joseph O’Brien may be more used to riding Classic contenders than training them, but he appears to have a leading Derby prospect in Rekindling, who lines up in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York.
O’Brien never had a Dante winner during his spell in the saddle, so if Rekindling can see off the likes of Cracksman and Crystal Ocean, the relative newcomer to the training ranks will be getting his name on the roll of honour for the first time. Rekindling must have a cracking chance of hitting the target judged on his return success in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown last month.
He saw off Douglas Macarthur, Yucatan and Capri – all of whom are trained by Aidan O’Brien – by 0.50 lengths, winning in fine style as he kept on with real purpose over that 2000m trip when getting a run.
Given that trio of placed runners have since filled the frame in the Derrinstown Derby Trial, the form has a pleasing look and if you take away Rekindling’s sole disappointing effort in three outings for David Wachman last year, he could well be a couple of points shorter in the betting. Rekindling looks sure to improve for the step up to 2400m at Epsom, and with plenty of rain around in recent days his previous win on soft ground at Gowran should stand him in good stead.
Queen’s Trust is not certain to be suited by cut in the ground, but she could still be good enough in the Middleton Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute’s runner made huge strides last term, progressing from an opening mark of 93 to end the year on a perch of 118 with a Breeders’ Cup victory under her belt.
The four-year-old was beaten just 1.25 lengths by Minding in the Nassau last year and was also placed in the Yorkshire Oaks and on Champions Day, proving she is certainly a performer out of the top drawer.
However, her best performance by far was when winning the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita last autumn under a brilliant Frankie Dettori ride and while conditions are likely to be vastly different here, Queen’s Trust can make her class tell.
Stoute should also be on the mark with Thikriyaat in the in the Listed Hambleton Handicap as he has his first start since disappointing at Goodwood last August.
The four-year-old was sent off favourite for the Celebration Mile but finished last of five runners after suffering from a fibrillating heart.
Obviously you have to take his current well-being on trust, but before that run he had looked a progressive performer and he might still have a bit up his sleeve.
Brian The Snail was snapped up by Godolphin at the start of the campaign and he can make a victorious debut in the blue silks in the British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes. Richard Fahey has always held this Zebedee colt in high regard and he really impressed on his handicap return at Pontefract last month, with his increased mark of 102 making a Listed race like this a logical step on the way to a possible run in the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot. Lupin is an interesting newcomer for Stoute in the first division of the Smith & Williamson Maiden Fillies’ Stakes at Salisbury. A daughter of Group 1 winner Promising Lead, Stoute has given this Medaglia D’Oro filly plenty of time before unleashing her on the track.
Zenon is another to note as he reappears in the EBF Stallions Friends Of Racing Welfare Maiden Stakes at Newmarket. – sportinglife.com