Jack Hobbs can throw down the most compelling marker for the Epsom Derby in what has so far been a hazy year by winning at York.
There have hitherto been rather more errors than trials for this season’s premier Classic, with numerous alleged big guns having been found badly wanting.
All that could change after the Betfred Dante Stakes, in which Jack Hobbs is fancied to impress.
The unbeaten Halling colt is already ante-post favourite for the Derby, but this is by far his stiffest assignment yet on a racecourse.
John Gosden’s inmate has only won a Wolverhampton maiden and a Sandown handicap, but it was his performance in the latter which really spiked punters’ interest.
There are those that have questioned the worth of the form, but the style and ease with which he accelerated 12 lengths clear in a race with a fine roll of honour was not far off jaw-dropping.
A long-striding thoroughbred with a maturity which belies his relative inexperience, Jack Hobbs looks the business, with a mile and a half almost certain to suit at Epsom.
In the interim, the timing of the 10-furlong Dante is absolutely perfect in terms of gaining more awareness in top company.
The Betfred Middleton Stakes looks a slightly murkier puzzle, but it is entirely possible Secret Gesture has slipped beneath the radar.
One blip in France aside, Ralph Beckett’s five-year-old has ably held her own in hot races since she finished a close second in the 2013 Oaks.
She also runs especially well at York, having finished second to the high-class My Ambivalent in this race 12 months ago.
The underrated mare’s last outing, when a superb fifth at the Breeders’ Cup fixture, also appeared to have passed by unnoticed.
With more fashionable, younger horses likely to be more in demand, Secret Gesture could be available at most generous odds.
* Selections -
Newmarket: 5.15 Island Flame, 5.50 Ninety Minutes, 6.25 Resonant, 6.55 Lunasea, 7.25 Angel Vision, 8.00 No Delusion, 8.30 Gossiping.
York: 2.10 Perfect Pasture, 2.40 Secret Gesture, 3.15 JACK HOBBS (NAP), 3.45 Prince Of Johanne, 4.20 Strath Burn, 4.50 Tawakkol, 5.20 Steve Rogers.
Fontwell: 5.05 A Country Mile, 5.40 Curraigflemens, 6.15 Sir Du Bearn, 6.45 Divine Intavention, 7.15 Tiermore, 7.50 Marlpit Oak, 8.20 Broken Eagle.
Perth: 2.30 Akorakor, 3.05 Riverside City, 3.35 Street Entertainer, 4.10 Cut The Corner, 4.40 Everylasting, 5.10 Royal Macnab, 5.45 La Dama De Hierro.
Salisbury: 1.50 Light Up Life, 2.20 Tutti Frutti, 2.55 Stay Silent, 3.25 Hope You Dance, 4.00 Imperial Link, 4.30 Ghalib, 5.00 Rain God.
Double: Jack Hobbs & Secret Gesture.