middleham TRAINER Mark Johnston believes likely favourite Cracksman will have to improve “significantly” if he is to confirm previous form with his Investec Derby contender Permian at Epsom on Saturday.
The John Gosden-trained Cracksman got the better of Permian by a short head in Epsom’s Derby Trial last month, but has not been seen in competitive action since.
Permian, meanwhile, has raised his game to win a Listed prize at Newmarket and the Dante Stakes at York and Johnston is quietly confident his charge can turn the tables on Cracksman in the world’s most famous Flat race.
“Cracksman is our best guide. Obviously and quite understandably his connections are going to expect him to come on from that Epsom race,” said the Middleham-based trainer.
“We pulled a bit of a fast one on him there. He was on the inside and Permian held him in for a few strides and got first run on him. Cracksman managed to get out, came after us and caught us by a nose.
“There’s nothing in it. They would have expected Cracksman to improve on that and beat us further, but this is the same track and a different distance and I think we’re the more assured of the pair to benefit from the step up in trip. I don’t think there’s any doubt in anybody’s mind that Permian has come on considerably since that Epsom encounter and Cracksman is going to have to improve significantly to beat him this time.”
Cracksman is one of five possible runners for Gosden, while Aidan O’Brien has seven contenders as he bids to win the premier Classic for a sixth time.
But Johnston expects the versatile Permian to be unaffected by a potentially tactical affair.
He added: “We’re going to go out there and do our own thing. We’ve got a very experienced horse and a very versatile horse.
CHELMSFORD: 6.10 Three Little Birds, 6.40 Stepper Point, 7.10 City Of Joy, 7.40 SPATIAL (NAP), 8.10 Top Mission, 8.40 Mr Red Clubs, 9.10 Master Dancer.
HAMILTON: 2.00 Villa Tora (treble), 2.30 Bronze Beau, 3.00 Love Oasis, 3.30 Kingthistle, 4.00 Flinty Fell, 4.30 Penelope Pitstop, 5.00 Cliff Bay.
LINGFIELD: 1.40 Prezzie, 2.10 Green Fortune, 2.40 Baby Gal, 3.10 Tiger Khan, 3.40 Sonnetist, 4.10 Rotherwick, 4.40 Mordoree, 5.10 Avocadeau.
NEWCASTLE: 6.20 Apalis, 6.50 Fredricka, 7.20 Global Humour, 7.50 Prying Pandora, 8.20 Ypres, 8.50 Lawless Louis.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 1.50 Baby Say Yes, 2.20 Always Amazing, 2.50 Tess Graham, 3.20 La Vie En Rose (next best), 3.50 Mukalal, 4.20 Kafeel, 4.50 Sakhalin Star, 5.20 Air Of York.