Get ready for an extra special Epsom Derby

IF ever a flat race has the potential to produce Cheltenham-type excitement, then it has to be the forthcoming Epsom Derby on June 6.

The Derby is always a tremendous spectacle anyway, but there is the possibility of something really special about this renewal.

There is so much to admire with the likes of Fame And Glory, Sea The Stars and Gan Amhras that you simply cannot wait for them to meet and to tell us which one is actually the new superstar.

Fame And Glory’s two wins as a juvenile, in as many runs, offered only limited information. He took a maiden at Navan, on desperate ground, and then what appeared to be a modest Group 1, at least at the time, at Saint-Cloud. The surface at Saint-Cloud was heavy as well, but, as a son of Montjeu, such ground would be looked upon as a plus.

His reappearance in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown, however, was the first occasion many took him seriously as a live Derby horse.

Almost certainly far from fully wound up and conceding 5lbs all round, he coasted through the contest to score by a snug length.

At Leoaprdstown on Sunday, of course, in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, Fame And Glory revealed even more about himself.

There seemed to be a lot of confidence in Mourayan against him, at least in the morning, and you could have Fame And Glory at evens.

That was 4-7 by the time the gates opened and it was no contest on the track. Fame And Glory travelled like a dream through the race, made up his ground effortlessly from the rear and surged five lengths away from Mourayan in the final furlong.

It had, you could argue, Epsom Derby winner written all over it and yet he can still be backed as high as 3-1. The main reason, obviously, I think, is because of the strength of the opposition. The other, perhaps, is because Fame And Glory swished his tail when Seamus Heffernan applied a bit of pressure.

As a son of Montjeu he was probably bound to have a kink in his makeup, I suppose, and the swishing of the tail has been dismissed, on that basis, as a worry in some quarters. But you'd still rather he didn't do it all the same.

Sea The Stars is a smashing horse and the main reason why you can back Fame And Glory at 3-1. He is a deadly dangerous opponent.

He can be had as high as 7-2, but it is interesting to note that Ladbrokes have him as their 5-2 favourite, in front of Fame And Glory.

The son of Cape Cross and Urban Sea was quite superb in winning the English 2000 Guineas at Newmarket after he travelled, at least to my eyes, a trifle freely in the early stages.

The way he quickened away from Brian Meehan's Delegator in the closing stages, however, was most impressive and was well on top, to the tune of a length and a half, at the line.

Delegator is set to contest the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh, prior to Epsom, and his performance is going to play a major part in helping us solve the Derby puzzle.

Jim Bolger has made no secret that he regards Gan Amhras as a Derby horse and he shaped like a thorough stayer when third to Sea The Stars and Delegator at Newmarket.

I’ve a feeling that 2000 Guineas was a particularly hot classic, although one has to admit there is no evidence yet such is the case.

And there’s Brian Meehan’s Crowded House, who puts his credentials on the line in the Dante Stakes at York this afternoon.

He won twice as a two-year-old, but it was his final run in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster which marked him down as very much one for the notebook.

I have a very vivid memory of Crowded House simply exploding from the furlong pole to score going away by three and a half lengths.

Aidan O’Brien takes him on now with two horses, Freemantle and Black Bear Island. Riding arrangements tell us that Freemante is the stable choice, which came as a mild surprise, at least to this observer.

In any case, a couple of things have to happen before we are tempted into making an investment.

Firstly, we must watch the Dante, which will contain vital clues and tell us whether Crowded House is indeed a big player. And we will have to wait for Delegator to arrive at the Curragh the weekend after this. Then we will have all the pieces of the jigasaw and it will be simply a matter of putting them together.

Can we get it right? Yes, we can!

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