CLEVER Cookie could bid for his third and most important course win of the season should he line up for the 55th John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday.
The six-year-old was twice successful on Knavesmire in May, winning over this extended mile and a quarter and then dead-heating with Ralston Road in the Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup over a mile and three-quarters.
The dual-purpose horse would be dropping back to the shorter trip of 10 furlongs for this heritage handicap, with connections tempted by the valuable prize money.
“He’s grand. All being well he’ll run as long as the ground is fine for him,” said Malton trainer Peter Niven. “He’s got loads of weight, but it’s one chance he’s got of going for a decent pot.”
Niven will probably have to look for a jockey as in-form Graham Lee, who has partnered Clever Cookie to victory in all his three starts this season, is likely to be in action at Newmarket’s Darley July Cup meeting the same day.
Last year’s Cambridgeshire winner Educate heads the weights after 53 horses stood their ground in a race that has a safety limit of 20.
The Queen could be represented by Bold Sniper, who was second to Contributer in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Bold Sniper’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute has a second possible in Stomachion, who was forced to miss the Old Newton Cup at Haydock over the weekend after suffering a setback.
Tres Coronas and Awake My Soul, third and fourth 12 months ago, could try again while others in what looks a typically trappy renewal include Farraaj, Nabucco, Two For Two and What About Carlo.
Epsom may consider moving the Derby to a Saturday evening slot to reverse the declining television audience of the great race.
Managing director Rupert Trevelyan said moving the off time is likely to come under discussion in a move already taken by counterparts in Ireland.
The peak audience for this year’s race last month, won by Australia, was 1.55 million, less than half that achieved the last time the Classic was shown by the BBC.
“We may decide to innovate. I’ve never ruled anything out and staging the race later in the evening could be considered,” said Trevelyan.
“The broadcasters tell us that every hour later could be worth an extra million viewers. The presence of the Queen is paramount and she will be consulted before we make any such change.”
However, bookmakers said they would be reluctant to support the change – an evening Derby next year, for example, would see the blue riband race clashing with European football’s Champions League final in Berlin.
Eddie Lynam’s Royal Ascot heroes Sole Power and Slade Power are among 17 sprinters confirmed for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.
Sole Power successfully defended his crown in the King’s Stand Stakes with a scintillating display in Berkshire last month, while his stable companion Slade Power broke his Group One duck in the Diamond Jubilee. Richard Hughes and Wayne Lordan take the rides respectively.
Lammtarra, the 1995 Derby, King George and Arc hero, has died, aged 22.