23rd April 2018


Gosden goes for a four-timer in Wednesday's Investec Blue Riband Trial with Crossed Baton as O'Brien runs two


Monday, April 23, 2018 - Ireland's champion Flat trainer Aidan O'Brien is doubly represented in the £50,000 Listed Investec Blue Riband Trial (in memory of Anthony Cane) (2.45pm, eight runners), the boosted highlight of the Investec Spring Meeting at Epsom Downs on Wednesday, April 25.

The 10-furlong contest, promoted to Listed status this year and given a new name, offers the winner a wildcard entry for Britain's premier Classic and richest race, the £1.5-million G1 Investec Derby at Epsom Downs on Saturday, June 2, provided they are not already entered or a gelding.

O'Brien's two runners are led by James Cook, who is the mount of Ryan Moore. By Galileo out of Red Evie, he is a full-brother to champion racemare Found.

James Cook made most of the running when he landed a mile maiden on his second start at Leopardstown in October.

Stablemate Zabriskie (Seamie Heffernan), a son of Frankel, scored at Tipperary in September before finishing last of eight in the G3 Autumn Stakes over a mile at Newmarket the following month. He has since undergone a wind operation.

O'Brien is chasing his first success in the Investec Blue Riband Trial (in memory of Anthony Cane). His two previous runners, Thomasgainsborough and Claudio Monteverdi, finished fourth in 2012 and 2016 respectively.

Newmarket trainer John Gosden has made the race - previously called the Investec Derby Trial - his own in recent years, with three successive victories, starting with Cloud Nine in 2015, continuing with So Mi Dar in 2016 and culminating in Cracksman last year - all ridden by Frankie Dettori.

Cracksman, bred and owned by Anthony Oppenheimer, ended the year as the highest-rated horse in Europe and the best three-year-old in the world following his seven-length victory in the G1 QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.

Gosden's representative this year Crossed Baton (Frankie Dettori) finished sixth on debut behind stable companion and subsequent G1 Racing Post Trophy second Roaring Lion at Newmarket in August before capturing a mile novice event readily by a length at Sandown Park in September.

The son of Dansili, homebred by three-time Investec Derby-winning owner Khalid Abdullah, made a winning reappearance on Polytrack at Kempton Park on March 31, when defeating the well-regarded Tigre Du Terre by three quarters of a length in a novice contest over 10 furlongs.

Lord Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khalid Abdullah, said today: "Crossed Baton is in good form at home.

"He has come out of his win at Kempton in good shape and has had a straightforward time of things since that run.

"It was a nice performance last time out and this is another big step up for him. This is a nice race for him to go for and it fits in well in the calendar.

"He has been progressive in all three of his starts and his form has worked out strongly with Tigre Du Terre, who finished second to him at Kempton, running a nice race at Newbury over the weekend [finished third, beaten three lengths]. We'll see how he gets on."

Crossed Baton already holds an entry to the Investec Derby, as do James Cook and Zabriskie.

Yorkshire-based trainer Mark Johnston saddles Listed Zetland Stakes second Dee Ex Bee (James Doyle), who is top-rated on official figures with 103.

The Farhh colt gained a wildcard entry for the Investec Derby by winning the Totepool Conditions Race over an extended mile at Epsom Downs on October 1.

The twice-raced My Lord And Master (William Haggas/Danny Tudhope - Investec Derby entry) was the very easy winner, by six lengths, of an extended mile maiden on his second start at Nottingham in November.

The form of that race received a boost at Newbury last Saturday when the second Young Rascal, also trained by Haggas, took a 10-furlong maiden by five lengths.

Technological (George Margarson/Oisin Murphy, not entered in the Investec Derby) has been successful on two of his last three outings, both on the All-Weather, firstly by six lengths on Tapeta at Wolverhampton in January and secondly over 12 furlongs on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on April 4. His rider Oisin Murphy has a 100 per cent record in two races on the grey Universal colt, while his owner Abdulla Al Mansoori landed the Investec Blue Riband Trial with Our Channel in 2014.

The eight runners are completed by Simpson (Ed Walker/Pat Cosgrave, not entered in the Investec Derby), winner of a mile Windsor nursery in September, and the debutant Miles Christianus (Robbie Osborne IRE/Rowan Scott), who was a second stage entry for the Investec Derby earlier this month.

The Investec Blue Riband Trial this year is run in memory of the late Anthony Cane, who died on January 29, 2018, aged 69, after battling motor neurone disease.

Cane was chairman of Epsom Downs Racecourse from 2008 until 2016, during which time he played a pivotal role in the completion and opening in 2009 by the Duchess of Cornwall of the Duchess's Stand at the racecourse and the new hotel the following year.

He was involved with Investec becoming the long-term sponsor of the Derby Festival and subsequently the 10-year extension of the support, ensuring that the premier Classic, the Investec Derby, remained the richest race in Britain.

He presided over Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations which started at the Investec Derby Festival in 2012.

A chartered surveyor, Cane was Strutt & Parker's senior partner before retiring. He was a member of The Jockey Club and also had success as a racehorse owner, with the James Fanshawe-trained Mohican Girl winning two Listed contests in the early 1990s.

The Investec Spring Meeting also features the £50,000 Investec City And Suburban Handicap (3.55pm, 10 runners) over 10 furlongs.

Kingsclere handler Andrew Balding runs Contango (Oisin Murphy, 8st 12lb), successful on three of four starts, as he bids to win the race for the third time in four years.

The £25,000 Investec Asset Handicap (2.10pm) over five furlongs and the £25,000 Investec Corporate Banking Great Metropolitan Handicap (3.20pm) over 12 furlongs have both attracted 13 runners.