THEY say fortune favours the brave. So the owners of Minding, So Mi Dar and Galileo Gold may have to “grow a pair” in the next fortnight if they are to achieve the ultimate glory. They have been, to these eyes at least, the three outstanding performers in the Epsom trials. Galileo Gold won the 2000 Guineas with authority while connections of flying fillies Minding and So Mi Dar have to decide whether to take on the boys.
They are all available “with a run” in the Epsom Derby market and let’s hope at least one of the owners takes a punt. They might be persuaded by the fact that the Dante failed to throw up an outstanding candidate in the style of Golden Horn in 2015. I was hoping the fog around the Derby picture would clear away after York but how wrong I was.
Wings Of Desire, a horse who had come third in a Newmarket maiden a few weeks ago, stayed on best to narrowly beat the more experienced Deauville. Was it a Derby-winning performance? In most years I would say a definite no, but the Classic is so wide open this year that in the absence of the three horses mentioned above, it could go the way of a rapidly improving three-year-old such as the son of Pivotal.
In addition, the vibes from John Gosden were positive after the race and there seems no doubt that Wings Of Desire will be supplemented for Epsom. Ironically Gosden had taken him out of the Derby in early March as he wanted to train him for the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, which was won by his brother Eagle Top. But he described his recent progress as “freakish” and appeared more certain that he would be supplemented for Epsom than he was about Golden Horn 12 months ago.
The other positive was the way Wings of desire appeared to outstay his rivals. He won his maiden over 12f on the all weather at Wolverhampton so stamina is not an issue. But I’m not convinced this was a vintage Dante. Deauville ran a solid race, as did Foundation. The latter will go for the French Derby after William Buick said he was definitely a 1m 2f horse. But I’ve never seen Deauville (now 12/1 for Epsom) or Foundation as good enough to win a Derby. Bookies were impressed with Wings of Desire though and cut him to 4/1 from 25s in the ante-post Epsom Derby betting.
Midterm was disappointing. He didn’t travel with the same ease as we saw at Sandown. Maybe the ground was too quick but, whatever the issue, I doubt we’ll see him at Epsom.
Aidan O’Brien will have to shuffle his pack over the next few weeks and make a decision on Minding. So Mi Dar remains likely to head for the Oaks, especially now Gosden has a strong Derby contender. But it’s difficult to assess which trial was the strongest. My gut tells me that US Army Ranger might be Aidan O’Brien’s best colt and the one with the most scope. But hopefully those lucky owners of Minding, So Mi Dar and Galileo Gold will take a leap of faith and go for the big one. The race is there for the taking.