Took an age to get organised alright. Might be one to look out for in a decent nursery over 6f. Johnson's very rarely seem to go on from their first runs. I don't rate him very highly as a trainer in either code if I'm honest.
Now it seems certain that Johnny Murtagh will ride Jan Vermeer and Frankie will ride Rewilding, I'll get cracking with the Derby formscan.
I just hope that team tactics don't play a big part in this race. The "boys in blue" and...err...the other boys in blue have plenty of runners here, so things could get a bit nefarious.
AL ZIR (Saeed bin Suroor)
For a horse bred to be at home on dirt, Al Zir ran a fabulous race to be third in the Racing Post Trophy in soft ground last season. He wasn't knocked around in the 2000 Guineas either and ran creditably to be ninth after stumbling from the stalls and later being hampered by Fencing Master.
Pedigree suggests the Derby will be too far, but Al Zir does shape like a stayer. We have all seen Godolphin second, third or even fourth strings win races so they don't run horses who are out of their depth.
AT FIRST SIGHT (Aidan O'Brien)
A pacemaker for stablemates, but quite a classy one (rated 100+). Could last quite a while on the front end.
AZMEEL (John Gosden)
A strong traveller, Azmeel won twice at seven furlongs before a below-par effort in the Goffs Million Mile at two. He returned to run second to Chabal in the Sandown Classic Trial, having pulled too hard before conclusively proving his stamina in winning the Dee Stakes at Chester. That form appears solid as runner-up Dancing David is a good yardstick.
BRIGHT HORIZON (Aidan O'Brien)
BULLET TRAIN (Henry Cecil)
A late-maturing type, Bullet Train defied greenness to win a Yarmouth maiden at the back-end of last season. Like many of Henry Cecil's horses he was still short of peak fitness when beaten by Myplacelater at the start of this season. He then improved to make all in the Lingfield Derby Trial.
I am not fanatical about winning times, but on purely visual impression Bullet Train looks like a grinder who could perhaps enjoy a more extreme distance. Quite what a two length defeat of Dubawi Phantom amounts to is anyone's guess so I'm happy to ignore Bullet Train on value grounds.
BUZZWORD (Mahmood al Zarooni)
Buzzword was aggressively-campaigned as a two-year-old and made eight starts in total. He won a Group 3 and other creditable efforts included an unlucky second to Dick Turpin in the Richmond, fifth in the Dewhurst and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
His juvenile speed clearly remains as Buzzword was recently a staying-on fourth in a very very strong renewal of the French 2000 Guineas. Buzzword's pedigree makes you wonder why he has not been aimed at the Derby through the winter, as he is related to Lush Lashes and an Arc winner. Godolphin have supplemented him quite rightly and he will be a danger to all. I've taken a bit of 66/1 each-way as he is completely unexposed at the distance.
CAPE BLANCO (Aidan O'Brien)
Unbeaten, Cape Blanco showed a very good attitude to win three times at seven furlongs last year on a variety of ground conditions. He appeared in need of the run in the Dante but still slammed Workforce and Coordinated Cut. The form is strong and he could easily be a ready-made Derby winner. Luckily, Ballydoyle have a few of those and it is rumoured that Cape Blanco will go for the French equivalent instead.
If he does indeed go to France, it will speak volumes about the chance of Jan Vermeer...or possibly reveal Cape Blanco is not fully recovered from his foot injury.
COORDINATED CUT (Michael Bell)
A solid yardstick who defied to the wayward Ameer to win the Tatersalls Timeform Trophy at the start of the season. His limitations were since exposed by Cape Blanco and Workforce in the Dante.
HOT PROSPECT (Michael Jarvis)
Another held by a few rivals on form. Hot Prospect has been beaten by both Coordinated Cut and Bullet Train this season and has no reason to reverse form.
JAN VERMEER (Aidan O'Brien)
Having won a maiden at the second attempt, Jan Vermeer was stepped up to Group 1 company in the Criterium International. Johnny Murtagh deserted Jan Vermeer for Midas Touch, perhaps fearing the ground would be too soft for JV. It was no inconvenience, however, as Jan Vermeer made all and stretched away to beat Emerald Commander by four lengths.
Whichever way you look at this, it was as impressive as St Nicholas Abbey's Racing Post Trophy and he is a worthy favourite for the Derby. It's a shame about the price, of course, but I suppose it is merited as Jan Vermeer proved his wellbeing recently with an easy win at The Curragh. That Criterium International form also appears stronger than my beloved Buzzword's juvenile form.
MIDAS TOUCH (Aidan O'Brien)
Despite being beaten behind Jan Vermeer last year, Midas Touch put himself into the Derby picture by winning the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial. That race has a rich history of producing classy performers, even with small fields being a normality. He took an age to quicken there and required the help of At First Sight to ensure the victory. Looks a St Leger type to me.
REWILDING (Mahmood al Zarooni)
So this is the dark horse of the Derby. Frankie chose him over the other Godolphin horses very early and, along with Buzzword, Rewilding was supplemented at great expense. He was consistent in France for Andre Fabre, with Racing Post comments "stayed on strongly" and "made ground" encouraging. Even more encouraging was his British debut for Mahmood al Zarooni in the Cocked Hat Stakes.
Rewilding didn't beat a great deal in that contest but is clearly held in high esteem by Godolphin and must be respected.
ST NICHOLAS ABBEY (Aidan O'Brien)
Non runner. Enough said.
TED SPREAD (Mark Tompkins)
Showed a very willing attitude to win the Chester Vase. The runner-up Icon Dream has since been annihilated by Jan Vermeer, however.
WORKFORCE (Sir Michael Stoute)
Hmmm, this is the one I struggle with. Having defied greenness to win a Goodwood maiden impressively, Workforce provided more questions than answers with his run in the Dante. Yes, he has considerable ability and stays, but what of the tack problems?
That would be a handy explanation for his awkward running style and lugging towards the rail. Nevertheless, I always feel that the bit slips through a horse's mouth when the animal is inclined to hang. Kauto Star at Kempton is an example. He lugs left on a right-handed track and always finishes with a slipped bit. With this in mind, I'm not sure about Workforce handing the camber at Epsom.
1st - Jan Vermeer
2nd - Buzzword
3rd - Rewilding
So after all that analysis, I've gone for the favourites in the two classics. D'oh!
The more important conclusion is Buzzword each-way though.
Dissapointing that St. Nicholas Abbey doesn't run. Takes the gloss off to some extent.
Hard to see any value in the market though I quite like Coordinated Cut. Amittedly the Stoute horse (a real fly in the ointment) is probably more open to improvement, but I actually think Coordinated Cut is nailed on to improve significantly for the step up as well and might just run into a place.
I'm coming around to Rumoush. Stamina questions to answer (pedigree looks a real mixed bag) but I actually think the Feilden is every bit as strong form as the Musidora and she looks all class.
I just had a thought, out of nowhere. Yes Sir to win the Summer Plate!
He hasn't had his quick ground in a long time and his handicap mark has dropped right down. I don't even know when the Summer Plate is, but I'm gonna listen to my subconscious this time. I think it wants to gain my trust for the next time it wants help setting fire to something...