Much attention will centre on Private Secretary in Goodwood’s British Stallion Studs EBF Cocked Hat Stakes on Friday, though it is unlikely he will take up his Investec Derby entry.
John Gosden mentioned Epsom ambitions earlier in the week for Private Secretary, but a trip to Royal Ascot now appears the preferred option for the Kingman colt, who was last seen winning a handicap at Sandown that has a notable recent history.
That Sandown race proved an unexpected Classic staging post back in 2015, when it was won by Gosden’s Jack Hobbs before going on to be second at Epsom to stablemate Golden Horn and then running out a stylish winner of the Irish Derby.
Richard Evans, of owners Denford Stud, said: “Obviously the trainer must feel he has come on an awful lot since his last run and where he goes from there depends how well he does in the race.
“If he was to come out of the Cocked Hat Stakes and win that by a very good margin then you’d have to consider the Derby, but other than that it looks as if Epsom will come too soon for him really.
“I think everything depends on how he copes with the race at Goodwood and where he finishes.”
Gosden’s son and assistant, Thady, said of Private Secretary: “He got a nice run up the inside rail at Sandown last time. He got the splits at the right time and things couldn’t have gone much better for him.
“Although he is by Kingman, he is out of a good staying family, so we expect him to see out the extra furlong well.
“He is a nice, well-balanced horse that is light on his feet, so we expect him to go round there easily.
“He wouldn’t be the most flashiest work horse in the world, but at the same time he wouldn’t be the laziest. He is a solid work horse.”
As at Sandown, Frankie Dettori takes the ride at Goodwood.
In a race known for many years as the Predominate Stakes, Gosden has another representative in the shape of Alfaatik, who was fifth to Bangkok in the Sandown Classic Trial on the same afternoon that Private Secretary won, while Mark Johnston has a live contender in Persian Moon.
The Makfi colt showed a good level of form as a two-year-old and was third to Bangkok at Sandown, prior to occupying the same position behind UAE Jewel in a Listed race at Newmarket.
Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “We bypassed the race at Newmarket (Fairway Stakes) last Saturday to come here.
“The horse has run respectably in the Sandown Classic Trial and at Newmarket on Guineas weekend. I think the extra furlong will do him no harm.
“He’s a slightly tough horse to place, in that he’s too good for handicaps and has just come up a bit short of what is required in the Derby trials he has run in so far, but this is maybe slightly weaker than the races he has contested in his last couple of starts.
“He’s bumped into some very smart rivals. There’s a chance in this race he may do again, but he’s consistent and is running to his mark every time.
“On the figures at the moment he’s the top-rated horse in the race and it’s just whether one can improve past him.”
David Simcock is expecting the step up to 11 furlongs to suit Spanish Moon, who has his first run on turf following three outings on the all-weather, the last of them at Kempton.
Simcock said: “We think the race should really suit him and he is going to be a horse who only gets better as he steps up in trip, so hopefully he has a good future over middle-distances.
“He won over 10 furlongs as a two-year-old, but we came back to a mile at Kempton last time and that race didn’t work out.
“We’re looking forward to running him at Goodwood and we will see how he gets on before working on other possibilities from there.”
Fifth Position (Roger Varian) and Duckett’s Grove (Ed Walker) are lightly-raced last-time-out winners, with the field completed by Kaloor (Brian Meehan), who was last seen contesting the Chester Vase won so impressively by Derby favourite Sir Dragonet.