CHARLIE Appleby says Hurricane Lane “ticks all the boxes” as the colt bids to become the 11th horse to complete the Dante-Derby double.
William Buick’s mount is a leading contender for tomorrow’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom after a classy win in last month’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York – a key big race trial.
And Appleby believes the Godolphin’s horse drawn in stall five will give Buick options in an intriguing renewal of the celebrated Classic that sees just 12 runners go to post after Aidan O’Brien, seeking a record ninth win, opted to only declare the hot favourite Bolshoi Ballet.
In other entry news, the defection of O’Brien’s Dante third High Definition – he lines up in the Irish Derby instead – sees Frankie Dettori switch to John Leeper, the horse named after training legend John Dunlop.
Meanwhile Middleham trainer Mark Johnston has declared Gear Up, unplaced in the Dante, with Ben Curtis keeping the ride.
“I think as we saw in the Dante he is a very amenable horse,” said Appleby as he assessed Hurricane Lane’ chances.
“From that draw William (Buick) can assess what is going on around him and feels where he needs to be in whether that is to push forward or sit in so I am happy with the draw in that sphere.
“For a big horse his demeanour allows him to be managed through the race and as he relaxes William can put him where he needs to be.”
Appleby and Buick teamed up to win the 2018 renewal with Masar, and the trainer knows that Epsom’s unique undulations, the ultimate test of a thoroughbred, is new territory for colts like Hurricane Lane.
“I was delighted with him at York and plenty of people would love to be sitting on an unbeaten colt that is three from three and a Dante winner going into a Derby,” he added. “He is a live contender. He ticks all the boxes and looks great and I couldn’t be happier with him.
“He has just been doing his routine work but he is a very straightforward horse. Since the Dante we have just tried to keep him in that same place and it’s so far so good. In an ideal world we would love it to be on the easy side of good but if it is good, good to firm in places it will be genuine safe ground.”
Meanwhile Bawtry trainer David Griffiths reports his two sprinting stalwarts Ornate and Duke Of Firenze to be in top form for another visit to Epsom for the World Pool “Dash” Handicap – one of the main support races to the Derby
Saturday’s five-furlong heat was not run last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Ornate took the prize when it was last run in 2019 and Duke Of Firenze was successful in 2013 when in the care of Sir Michael Stoute.
Meanwhile, O’Brien’s colt St Mark’s Basilica will face 18 rivals when he bids for a French Classic double in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.
The horse last month’s French 2000 Guineas on the first start of his three-year-old campaign at ParisLongchamp, is joined in Sunday’s field by stablemate Van Gogh.
St Mark’s Basilica, who has been drawn in stall two, steps up beyond a mile for the first time this weekend.
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