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The key questions as exciting Bangkok puts Derby claims on line in Classic Trial

bet365 Classic Trial (Group 3) | 1m2f, 3yo | ITV4/RTV

Can Bangkok show he's the right type for Epsom?

Silvestre de Sousa has proved an instant hit in his new role as retained rider for King Power Racing, and connections will be hoping Bangkok is a live contender for the Investec Derby.

De Sousa and Bangkok's trainer Andrew Balding have made a fast start to 2019 with the jockey already having 11 winners from 19 rides in the King Power colours before racing at Chelmsford on Thursday night, the bulk of which have come for Balding.

De Sousa said: "The horses are running well and you're only as good as the horses you ride. The trainers are working hard and the horses are performing."

Fox Power, Bye Bye Hong Kong and Shine So Bight have been among those performing particularly well this spring for an operation which lost its founder Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who was also chairman of Leicester City, in a helicopter crash in October.

His son Aiyawatt has taken over the reins and the blue and white silks have become one of the most familiar and successful sights on the racecourse this season. 

Although winless in three starts as a juvenile, Bangkok achieved a strong level of form finishing behind Prince Eiji, who misses this due to an infected foot, and Feilden Stakes winner Kick On.

Bangkok started off this season in a maiden at Doncaster rather than exploiting an opening mark of 88 and ran out an easy winner by a length and a quarter. 

That race has worked out well, with runner-up Telecaster dotting up by nine lengths at Windsor and now under consideration for the Dante.

Bangkok is a general 33-1 shot for the Derby, and De Sousa, who has high hopes for the colt, added: "He's a nice, improving horse. With improvement I think he could do something special."

Will John Gosden triumph again?

John Gosden has a fine record in this race with four wins since 2010, and is bidding for a hat-trick following Cunco and Sevenna Star's victories in 2017 and 2018.

Of those four winners, Western Hymn fared best in the Derby, finishing sixth at Epsom in 2014, and this season Gosden has two contenders for Sandown's trial.

Chelmsford debut winner Alfaatik is the least-exposed runner in the line-up, while Travel On also comes into the race off the back of an all-weather win at Lingfield last month.

Gosden said of the duo: "Both are nice, staying colts with progressive profiles. Alfaatik ran down our Pianissimo at Chelmsford on his debut over this trip when doing all his best work at the end. He's short on experience and has yet to run on grass, but has been working nicely.

"Travel On won well at Lingfield and ran some nice races on turf last year."

Can Technician build on Leicester win?

There was a lot to like about Technician's seasonal reappearance at Leicester this month, and among those to take note were US-based owners Team Valor, who subsequently purchased the colt.

Trainer Martyn Meade holds Technician in high regard and is excited to see how the son of Mastercraftsman performs in better company.

"He's raring to go and has thrived since Leicester," Meade said. "The little bit of rain we've had in the last couple of days will suit as it'll have taken any sting out of the ground.

"Sandown will suit as it's fairly stiff and we want to make sure he easily gets the mile and a quarter on a stiffer track. We'll have to see how he goes."

Could Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds have a Classic contender?

A runner in the Derby would be a big deal for Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, who have operated successful syndicates for more than 30 years.

Their hopes rest with Persian Moon, who is the most experienced runner in the field with seven starts at two.

He signed off his juvenile campaign with a win at Epsom, so connections know he handles the unique track, and this race will indicate whether the Investec Derby will be on his agenda.

Sam Hoskins, representing the owners, said: "He's out of a High Chaparral mare so the step up in trip should suit. He's done well over the winter, but we know it won't be an easy task.

"Hopefully he can run a nice race and tell us where we're going for the rest of the season."

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