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Heavy ground would put Cracksman run in Dante in doubt
18 May 2017 | 

The Newmarket trainer John Gosden, successful in Wednesday’s Musidora Stakes with Shutter Speed, is concerned about the proximity of the Investec Derby, just 16 days after the Dante, with the ground turning testing after a day’s racing in the rain.

Gosden said: “I will have a think and talk to Mr [Anthony] Oppenheimer. I have genuine concerns because it’s tight. There are only 16 days between the Dante and the Derby and no-one is going to have an easy race in the Dante.”

Oppenheimer suggested the decision could hinge on the weather. He said:“It will be entirely down to John Gosden and I don’t think he wants to run on ground which is turning out to be heavy. If it’s really heavy I doubt he’ll be running.”

The encouraging news for Cracksman’s connections is that Thursday’s weather is set to be better than Wednesday’s. Clerk of the course William Derby said on Wednesday night: “Today’s rain is scheduled to drift away about 8-9pm. We’ve had 8mm up to now. We’re forecast a clear, sunny day tomorrow.

“The plan is to move the rail on the south bend to open up some fresh ground for the horses to run on tomorrow, so the Dante will be shorter by 32 yards than today's Musidora.”

With a late Easter having pushed the racing programme back this year the Derby has suffered being run on the first Saturday of the month, which falls on June 3.

Cracksman is the leading British contender for the Derby at 7-1 just behind the Aidan O’Brien pair Churchill (11-2) – yet to be confirmed a contender after his 2,000 Guineas win – and last week’s Chester winner Cliffs Of Moher (13-2).

The 2015 St Leger winner Simple Verse begins her five-year-old career in Friday’s Betway Yorkshire Cup.

“She’s in good form and went well when she worked on Monday morning,” said her trainer Ralph Beckett. “The ground, track and trip should be ideal. I have the Gold Cup in mind for her.”

Among the other seasonal debutants are the Queen’s Dartmouth – who was second to Erupt in Canada last time – and Godolphin’s Endless Time, second in two French Group 1s last autumn.

Nemoralia dominated the Longines Irish Champions Weekend Fillies’ Stakes 12 months ago before finishing second in the Coronation Stakes, an engagement held this year by Dancing Breeze, Princess De Lune and Tomyris among the eight declared runners for Friday.

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