The first recognised trial for the Investec Derby, Britain's premier Classic and most valuable race, has attracted a strong field on Wednesday (2.45pm), April 24.
The £50,000 Listed Investec Blue Riband Trial, run over 10 furlongs at the home of the G1 £1.5-million Investec Derby, Epsom Downs Racecourse, offers the winner (if not already entered) a wildcard entry into the Greatest Flat Race in the World on Saturday, June 1.
The seven runners in the Investec Blue Riband Trial include Irish challenger Cape Of Good Hope, a full-brother to five-time G1 victor Highland Reel, who had an unbeaten record at Epsom Downs, winning the G1 Investec Coronation Cup during the 2017 Investec Derby Festival on his only outing at the unique course.
Cape Of Good Hope, owned by a Coolmore partnership, is trained by Aidan O'Brien, who is the most successful current trainer in the 12-furlong Investec Derby with six victories including Galileo (2001).
Galileo is the sire of Cape Of Good Hope, who is rated 106 after a good first season in 2018. The Ryan Moore-ridden runner on Wednesday, ended the year by finishing third in the G2 Royal Lodge Stakes over a mile at Newmarket after coming second in the seven-furlong G2 Superlative Stakes at the same course. O'Brien, Ireland's 20-time champion Flat trainer, has yet to win the Investec Blue Riband Trial.
Arthur Kitt, trained by Tom Dascombe in Cheshire and owned and bred by Andrew Black's Chasemore Farm, did even better as a two-year-old and is also by an Investec Derby winner in Camelot (2012).
Rated 109, the three-year-old colt, who nearly died when being born, won the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June last year after making a successful debut at Haydock Park. He then chased home Too Darn Hot in the G3 Solario Stakes at Sandown Park and finished two places behind Cape Of Good Hope in the Royal Lodge Stakes before ending 2018 with a good fourth in the mile G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs, USA, in November.
Dascombe, having his first Investec Blue Riband Trial Stakes runner, reported: "Arthur Kitt is in good form and the Epsom Derby Trial will be his first run of the year.
"It's another step up in trip, but we are hopeful he will get 10 furlongs.
"We're looking forward to getting his season started."
Stable jockey Richard Kingscote takes the ride on Arthur Kitt, who is not entered in the Investec Derby and neither are four others in Wednesday's race. Cape Of Good Hope and dual winner Mackaar, a Cape Cross colt trained by the in-form Newmarket trainer Roger Varian and the mount of Andrea Atzeni, hold Investec Derby engagements.
Mackaar, on his second start, won a novice event over nine and a half furlongs on Tapeta at Wolverhampton in November and defied a penalty on his reappearance in a similar 10-furlong contest on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on April 6. He has yet to race on grass.
Another Newmarket-based trainer John Gosden has been successful in the four most recent runnings of the Investec Blue Riband Trial and gained victory in the trial six times in total.
Cracksman (2017) has been the best of those winners and went on to finish third in the Investec Derby, won back-to-back G1 QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot and captured the 2018 G1 Investec Coronation Cup before ending 2018 as the joint-highest rated horse in the world.
Gosden relies on Dubawi colt Turgenev, successful at Newcastle and Newmarket in 2018 before finishing seventh in the G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster. The Frankie Dettori-ridden three-year-old was also seventh on his reappearance in a 10-furlong conditions race at Newbury on April 12.
Yorkshire-based trainer Mark Johnston runs dual winner Massam, another Dubawi colt, who won at Newcastle and Yarmouth last year and makes his seasonal debut under Franny Norton.
Upper Lambourn trainer Ed Walker has high hopes for Frankel colt Cap Francais, who was successful on two of his three starts last year. After a promising second on debut at Newbury, he impressed when taking mile novice events at Salisbury and Haydock Park in September. Gerald Mosse is in the saddle on Wednesday.
Cap Francais was bred by the late John Pearce, who died in January, 2017 aged 98. Pearce went close to Derby success as an owner-breeder when Dragon Dancer was the short-head runner-up to Sir Percy in 2006. Cap Francais races in Pearce's colours under the John Pearce Racing Ltd banner.
Walker commented: "He is a very well balanced horse and whilst Epsom is a very unique track, I am hopeful that he will cope with the undulations.
"He has wintered well and was impressive in two starts at Salisbury and Haydock last season.
"He is a horse that will stay well and is going to definitely improve for a step up in trip. It is very exciting to have a horse going for the trial at Epsom with real Derby ambitions."
Completing the field is recent Redcar handicap victor Sameem, a New Approach colt trained by James Tate in Newmarket and partnered by Oisin Murphy. Tate won the 2013 Investec Blue Riband Trial with Mirsaale.
The other highlight on Wednesday's six-race card at Epsom Downs is the £50,000 Investec City And Suburban Handicap (3.55pm, 13 runners), which sees the return of Mildenberger (Mark Johnston/James Doyle), top-weight and unraced since finishing second in the G2 Dante Stakes at York in May.
Racing starts at 2.10pm and ends at 5.00pm.
The going at Epsom Downs is currently Good, Good to Firm in places. The outlook is for conditions to remain dry until possible showers on Wednesday.