Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
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Goldspur: bids to lay down his Derby claims
Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By Graeme Rodway and Jonathan Harding
Friday: 3.35 Sandown
bet365 Classic Trial (Group 3) | 1m2f | 3yo | ITV4/RTV
Turn the clock back 12 months and Alenquer held off the strong late challenge of Adayar to win this event. Not many thought we had seen a Derby winner, but Adayar went on to prove them wrong and his trainer Charlie Appleby runs a similarly unflashy type in this year’s race.
Goldspur is bred for stamina and that’s half the battle in the modern-day Derby, where the majority of runners have lots of speed in their pedigree. Goldspur’s dam won over this far and is a sister to a winner over two miles, so this might be his last run over this 1m2f trip.
Stamina was certainly Adayar’s great strength last year and Goldspur has already run twice over this distance in his juvenile season. The stiff uphill finish at Sandown should play to his strengths from him and he has the best form on offer having finished third in a Group 1 last time.
Adayar took in the Lingfield Derby Trial en route to his Derby victory and Appleby will probably have another race in mind for Goldspur, provided he passes this reappearance test.
Aidan O’Brien won this in 2012 with Imperial Monarch and his other four runners in the last ten years finished 2238. He has yet to unleash a superstar in the race, but Hunting Horn was third in 2018 before going on to win the Hampton Court and maybe Royal Ascot, rather than the Derby, will be the aim for the once-raced Ballydoyle representative here, River Thames.
The last word must go to the Gosden runners. John Gosden won this in 2014, 2017 and 2018 and he and he are Thady saddle Frantastic and Franz Strauss. Both were last seen on the all-weather at Newcastle and Frantastic is 6lb better than his stablemate judged on RPRs.
Neither look obvious Derby candidates at this stage, but last year proved anything is possible.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
‘Hopefully this is a stepping stone’
Charlie Appleby and William Buick will bid to win yet another Classic trial when Godolphin’s Goldspur makes his first start of the season.
The in-form duo have already combined to win three Group contests this month, including the Craven with an unbeaten 2,000 Guineas favorite Native Trail and the Fred Darling Stakes with Wild Beauty.
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Goldspur won his first start at Sandown under James Doyle
Goldspur is a course winner, who landed the Group 3 Zetland Stakes at Newmarket and suffered his first defeat when third in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud on the final start of his juvenile campaign.
“We’ve been pleased with how Goldspur has progressed over the winter,” said Appleby. “He broke his maiden of him at Sandown and went on to get some nice form in the book at Newmarket and Saint-Cloud.
“If he reproduces the top end of his juvenile form, he is going to be very competitive. Like all three-year-olds at this stage of the season, everyone is trying to see where they fit in the rankings. Hopefully, this is a stepping stone on to better things, and a step up in distance in time is going to see further improvement.”
what they say
David Simcock, Trainer of Cash
He seems in good order and has trained well. He won his maiden from him at Newmarket in October and this is a big step up in class, but it will tell us where we are. We’re happy with him but are under no illusions.
John Gosden, joint trainer of Frantastic and Franz Strauss
They’re both ready to start back, but they’ll come on considerably for the outing. Neither has much experience and Franz Strauss has only had one race so this will tell us plenty about them.
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of River Thames
The idea was to run him in the Ballysax because he was going very well at home. Unfortunately he bruised a foot and was held up for a while. He’s a big horse who we hope could be one of the best of our middle-distance horses this season.
Rob Hornby, rider of Westover
I’m really excited to get back on him. He’s matured really well. He could be a bit free last year, but he’s settling well in his work. He’s acted well on the track before and will give a good account.
Reporting by Jonathan Harding
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FIRST PUBLISHED 6:00PM, APR 21 2022