15:10 - Ballet Concerto
He was gelded before his return in the Spring Mile at Doncaster and he clearly put up a much-improved performance to win that competitive handicap off a mark of 97.
He was raised 5lb for it and we thought he had a fair chance of following up at Newmarket, but he proved more than a bit disappointing there. Maybe it was the slow early pace, or the much quicker ground, that didn't suit, although he did win on good to firm last year.
Whatever the reason for that defeat he is better than he showed there and he is worth his place in this higher grade, even if he does have a lot to find on official marks. Upwards of 10lb in fact, in what looks a good Group 3 with a lot of depth to it, so this is a big ask for him. A bit of ease in the ground would suit.
16:30 - Cliffs Of Moher
Cliffs Of Moher is not short of pace and I wouldn't say that stamina is the biggest weapon in his armoury, but his win in the Dee Stakes gave me plenty of encouragement that he will see out the Derby trip. I thought he won at Chester despite me feeling in the race that he wasn't fully wound up and I can see him stepping up a good deal on the bare form. Mind you, he needs to make significant improvement from Chester to win this race.
A lot of people may say this is not a vintage Derby but, trust me, it has a lot of depth to it. That said, I think he and Cracksman are probably the two in here open to the most improvement. I don't think stamina will be an issue for the Epsom Derby Trial winner Cracksman; in fact, I go the other way and wonder whether he will have the speed to win. But he is clearly a colt of some potential.
Aidan's other five in the race all have chances, which is why they are running. They are not just making up the numbers. I think the Derrinstown could be the strongest single piece of form coming into this race, albeit there was nothing to choose between winner Douglas Macarthur and the third Capri there. I didn't ride in the race but I know them both well and Capri in particular will appreciate the step up to 1m4f, and I think he is ready for the challenge, physically and mentally, now.
I thought all three horses in the Chester Vase have chances too, to varying degrees, and Venice Beach, Wings of Eagles (who I though shaped well) and The Anvil are all stayers. It is just a matter of whether they are quick enough.
If you think the Derrinsstown form is strong, then you have to give Rekindling a decent shot, too. He led home Douglas Macarthur, Yucatan and Capri (who was carrying a 5lb penalty) in the Ballysax and he shaped like a stayer when fourth to Permian and Benbatl in the Dante last time. Certainly, his pedigree suggests the step up to 1m4f will suit him and I can see him going well.
But everywhere you look there are dangers and horses who won or ran well in Trials, other than those we have already mentioned. Best Solution gave Glencadam Glory weight and a good beating in one of the better Lingfield Derby Trials; we have the Guineas form represented by Craven winner Eminent, who I think will stay; and Khalidi has won the Fielden, where he beat me on Salouen, who had Group 1 form at two, and the Cocked Hat by 5 lengths.
This is not a bad race - though I do think this is a big ask for Dubai Thunder straight from a recent maiden win - but I hope if there is to be a horse who will put his hand up and improve past them all then it is my horse. But with 19 runners this promises to be a messy race where luck will be key. Then again, it is the same for us all and winning a Derby is not meant to be easy, it is?