Derby Trial Stakes (14.55 Lingfield): Munjaz can thwart Irish challenge
This doesn’t look the strongest of Derby trials, and Munjaz looks worth siding with after breaking his duck in good style last time out.
The John Gosden trained colt shaped with plenty of promise when placed in two runs as a juvenile, and put that experience to good use when winning a 1m 2f maiden at Newmarket last month.
The son of Sea The Stars raced in the centre of the track not far off the pace, and and after being ridden to take up the running a furlong from home ran on well to beat Venezia by 1/2 a length.
The pair pulled three lengths clear of the third, and although many were not impressed by Munjaz I thought there was lots to like about the way he went about his business.
The further they went the better Munjaz looked, and the extra furlong in this contest looks sure to suit.
Aidan O’Brien has saddled three winners in the last six runnings of the race and is double handed with Blue Hussar and Mekong River.
The former won in good style on his sole start as a juvenile in a 7f contest at Leopardstown, despite carrying his head high.
The son of Montjeu finished to great effect to score going away by 3/4 of a length having been just sixth at the furlong marker and falls into the “could be anything” category.
However, the horse he beat has failed to win in three subesquent starts and his stable companion Mekong River has by far a more solid profile.
The son of Galileo improved at a rate of knots when winning his first four starts as a juvenile, and was far from disgraced when fourth in a Group 1 contest at Saint-Cloud when last seen in action.
That run sets the standard in this line-up, but Mekong River has to give 3lb away to some unexposed types and that will be tough.
Another major contender has to be the Charlie Appleby trained Sudden Wonder.
The colt finished just in front on Munjaz when runner-up on his second start at Newmarket, and has won his last two starts in the manner of a progressive sort.
The last of those came in a valuable sales race at Newmarket, where Sudden Wonder showed a game attitude to beat Observational by a head.
This represents a step up in grade, but Sudden Wonder is clearly going places and rates a big player.