John Gosden expects to have a clear idea of whether Too Darn Hot is a realistic Derby contender after he runs in York’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes today.
The son of Dubawi enjoyed a faultless juvenile season, in which he completed his unbeaten run of four races with a facile top-level success in the Dewhurst at Newmarket.
However, his three-year-old campaign thus far has proved frustrating - because a setback that initially ruled him out of an intended prep run in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury meant he was not ready in time for the Qipco 2000 Guineas, for which he had been red-hot favourite all winter.
Gosden admits even today’s Knavesmire feature is coming sooner than he would like, but feels he cannot wait any longer to take the wraps off one of the most exciting Flat horses in training.
“In the case of Too Darn Hot, we had to change the programme,” said the Clarehaven handler. A few days before the Greenham, he came up with a splint issue and he had two weeks of walking.
So, the Dante became the obvious place to go - and although we are happy with the horse, it has been a very tight schedule to get him to this race.
“He worked very nicely on Friday with Frankie (Dettori), and did two nice canters on Saturday morning.
“I’ve no doubt in my mind he will improve for it. Certainly, another 10 days to prepare him would have been suitable, but we have no more time to play with now.”
The biggest question Too Darn Hot faces is whether he possesses the required stamina for next month’s Investec Derby at Epsom over a mile and a half.
The fact he is out of a mare who won two Group Ones over the Derby distance in Dar Re Mi and is a full-brother to last season’s St Leger runner-up Lah Ti Dar is cause for optimism, but Gosden expects to know much more after this 10-furlong assignment.
He added: “Obviously we see the Dante as the best (Derby) trial, and it looks a very good field - and from the race, we will know whether to point towards the Derby or the St James’s Palace.
“My instinct says a mile to a mile and a quarter from what I’ve seen of the horse, but then his full-sister was second in the Leger. We will let the horse and Frankie tell us.”
Gosden also runs outsider Turgenev, and insists he is not running purely to benefit his esteemed stablemate.
He said: “He has improved in himself and he’s there on his own merit, but he is a horse who likes to go at an even pace. He’s a lengthener, not a quickener.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a crawl, looking at the field.”