The relentless search for potential Epsom Derby (G1) contenders continues when Sandown Racecourse, a venue steeped in racing history, hosts the highly-anticipated Classic Trial (G3) on Saturday.
Run over a stiff 10 furlongs on a testing right-handed track, the race is a well-regarded Classic trial having produced two winners of the Derby including Adayar last year and Benny The Dip in 1997. Both horses finished second at Sandown but improved significantly to win the Epsom showpiece.
Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby was responsible for Adayar’s phenomenal performance and adopts a similar strategy with his new big-race hope, Goldspur, who made a sensational debut at Sandown last September when hacking home a six and a half lengths winner of a mile in September.
The smart son of top Darley stallion Dubawi went on to deliver two impressive performances over a mile and a quarter, winning the G3 Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes at Newmarket before running on third when stepped up in class in the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud in France.
Putting Goldspur’s Classic potential into context, Appleby told the Godolphin website: “We have been pleased with how Goldspur has progressed over the winter. He broke his maiden at Sandown and went on to get some nice form in the book at Newmarket and Saint-Cloud. If he reproduces the top end of his juvenile form, he is going to be very competitive.
“Like all three-year-olds at this time of year, everyone is trying to see where they fit in the rankings. Hopefully, this is a stepping-stone to better things, and a step up in distance in time is going to see further improvement.”
Godolphin is two-handed in the Sandown Classic Trial with debut winner Franz Strauss representing the father-and-son training partnership of John and Thady Gosden.
A son of 2015 Derby victor Golden Horn, Franz Strauss advertised his staying prowess when coming from the back of the field to win a mile at Newcastle in December.
The Godolphin colt is named after the virtuoso 19th-century German composer.
How significant are the Classic trial races
During April and May Britain, Ireland, and France stage several important races, across a variety of venues, where trainers bid to identify horses who may have the ability to perform well in the respective Derbies.
While the English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and York’s Dante Stakes are the two most recognized British trials, having produced the most recent Derby winners, races like Ireland’s Bllysax Stakes are also a proven stepping stone to greatness, with the Group 3 contests yielding big winners like Sinndar, Galileo High Chaparral and Harzand.
The Sandown Classic Trial is perhaps no less significant given the fact that the 200-year-old track is a serious test of character in a three-year-old horse who is still maturing into a proper equine athlete.
Famous Derby Trial races in the UK, Ireland, and France.
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