Too Darn Hot was upstaged by Telecaster in a surprise result for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York.
Last season’s champion European two-year-old gave his all – but his Derby dreams were ended as Telecaster took the spoils in the hands of Oisin Murphy for trainer Hughie Morrison.
Too Darn Hot’s stablemate Turgenev set a strong pace and was shadowed by Telecaster, with the pair having the field well stretched out for a long way.
Frankie Dettori had Too Darn Hot settled nicely in fourth and he was produced at the right time to make his challenge, only to find Telecaster (7-1) refusing to buckle in the closing stages as he stuck to his guns to beat the even-money favourite by a length.
Surfman stayed on well for third place, and while Aidan O’Brien suffered a rare reverse in the Classic trials as Japan failed to get in a serious blow, he was not far behind in fourth.
Telecaster was slashed to 5-1 from 20-1 for the Investec Derby, but will have to be supplemented for the Epsom showpiece.
As for Too Darn Hot, his trainer John Gosden was quick to nominate the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot as the target for his previously-unbeaten Dubawi colt.
Gosden’s charge was making a belated seasonal reappearance, after a setback meant he missed the Greenham Stakes and with it the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
The Newmarket trainer said: “Frankie said he didn’t want to get closer to a nice, even pace, the winner used the pacemaker well.
“He (Too Darn Hot) was hard on the bridle and fresh, like I said he would be, he’s run his race a little bit early on.
“Frankie was clear in his mind that in the last furlong the lack of a race (told) – but also his stamina was giving out.
“We were here for a trial today to find out if we went for the Derby or the St James’s Palace, and we’ll run in the St James’s Palace.
“I’m delighted with the horse, he might get 10 furlongs later in the year, but not fresh off a lay off – he was vulnerable off a lay off.
“He’d had two weeks walking, he’s run a solid race but it was a matter of stamina. If you are going to a Derby, you can’t go playing around – I wanted to come for a proper trial and we’ve had one.”
Morrison was understandably thrilled with the performance of Telecaster.
He said: “We’ve done it the hard way, haven’t we? We first hard to grind down the pacemaker and usually after that they get picked off.
“After going two furlongs I nearly put my glasses down and thought we’d burnt our boats by going too quick, but Oisin got it right.
“Too Darn Hot obviously needed the race and we’ve had runs this year, so that is to our advantage, but he (Telecaster) is obviously a pretty special horse.
“It’s been a big team effort as he is quite keen and on his toes, but that’s him and that’s what makes him so good.
“I haven’t a clue how good he is. I’ve had nothing like him before and there’s nothing I’ve got at home that can go with him, but I don’t need one as he does plenty.”
Telecaster was previously taken out of the Derby and will now need to be supplemented at a cost of £85,000.
Morrison is keen to let the dust settle before committing to a run in the premier Classic.
He added: “That (Derby) is the way you would like to think, but it’s 16 days away and he’s had more than a racecourse gallop today.
“It’s a big call. He looked a very good horse today, but we’ll sit down and discuss it and give it a few days.
“I think one would be put off less to go for the Derby than you would other races, but it’s fast ground out there and that takes its toll as well.”
On the decision to previously take his stable star out of the Derby, he said: “In March we hadn’t run. We discussed it and said we didn’t have the experience for the Derby.
“We had a serious chat about it, but who could have dreamed we’d have been here today?
“There are probably worse mistakes to make.”
Of the horses behind the first two, Roger Varian said of Surfman: “I’m pleased with the run, whether we go for the Derby or not we’ve got time to decide, but what we do know is that we’ve got a very nice horse on our hands.”
O’Brien said of Japan: “We’re very happy. He was just ready for a race, which is why we came here today. Ryan (Moore) was always going to look after him, he was happy and the lads will decide if he goes to Epsom.
“He’s still in the picture. We came to get a run in and that’s what he did. There’s no decision on Sir Dragonet yet (Chester Vase winner, another who needs to be supplemented), I’d imagine the lads will wait until closer to the time.”