This weekend’s racing action may hold significant clues for this year’s Derby and Oaks
Challengers to Hawk Wing and High Chaparral, the first and second favourites in next month’s Derby betting, are looking thin on the ground. So there will be particular interest in Saturday’s Sky Channel 418 Derby Trial at Lingfield.
First Charter, Mamool and Wahchi are the three runners who hold the Derby engagementbut none of them looks capable of beating Bandari, whose trainer Mark Johnston has already won two major Derby trials with Simeon and Fight Your Corner this spring.
But like his stablemates, Bandari is not in the Derby and will not be supplemented at the princely cost of £90,000.
Johnston has recently given angry vent to the fact that he considers that the entry system does not allow the best horses to run at Epsom on June 8. Anyway, he will be content with this £60,000 prize en-route to picking up more big races later in the year.
Bandari, an Alhaarth half-brother to Johnston’s Royal Ascot winner Diaghilef, completed a highly successful first season of three wins from four runs with a nine-length romp at Pontefract. He is highly regarded.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained First Charter won easily at Leicester the other day and Wahchi was narrowly beaten by Playapart at Newmarket.
Young Ed Dunlop is making a name for himself as a trainer of high class fillies. Lailani, the Irish Oaks winner, did him proud last year and Mubkera can enhance her Oaks prospects in the Sky Channel 418 Oaks Trial.
Mubkera, by the 1989 Derby winner Nashwan, is closely related to the splendid broodmare Slightly Dangerous, herself runner-up to Time Charter in the 1989 Oaks. She created a favourable impression when winning her only race at Chepstow last August.
Action away from home
There could be some significant Derby clues abroad on Sunday when High Chaparral runs in the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown and the French 2000 Guineas is staged at Longchamp.
Defeat for High Chaparral would come as a major shock. Richard Hughes may not only win the French 2000 for John Gosden on Studio Time, but also the 1000 for the Manton trainer on the highly promising filly Zenda, ultra-impressive on her Windsor reappearance last month. It could be a lucrative trip to France for the tall Irish jockey.