Westover (5-1) made a winning start to his 2022 campaign and earned a quote of 20-1 for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom Downs (Saturday 4th June) following his success in today’s Group Three bet365 Classic Trial (1m 2f) at Sandown Park.
Juddmonte’s homebred Frankel colt, trained by Ralph Beckett and ridden by Rob Hornby, overhauled leader Goldspur (6-5 Favourite) entering the final furlong and then faced a strong late challenge from Cash (11-1), who came from the clouds. At the finish, Westover had just a short-head to spare over Cash, who is now a 16-1 chance with bet365 for Cazoo Derby glory. The 2021 Cazoo Derby victor Adayar finished second in the bet365 Classic Trial 12 months ago.
Barry Mahon, Juddmonte racing manager, said: “It was a very good performance. Ralph has been happy with him at home and he has been training nicely. He picked this race as a starting point some way back. It was nice that the plan came off. I think that is exactly it (why he started here) as he won here well and he likes the track, the uphill finish suits him well.
“He has very good form as a two year old. We felt he improved over the winter and today showed he probably had. There was a very bad thunderstorm that morning at Pontefract before the race (the Listed Silver Tankard, which Westover was second in) and the ground had got very loose and it didn’t suit him 100 per cent. Ryan (Moore) rode him that day and he probably felt if he was to have his time again, he would do things a little differently.
“He is a good horse and he is by a great stallion and he has a good pedigree and hopefully he can continue to improve. I think he is pretty versatile ground wise. Good ground or either side of it is fine. He is a big horse so he might not want it very quick.
“He is still in the Epsom Derby. We will sit down with Prince Khalid’s family and we will discuss what would they like to do and work back from there. He looked a little green today and if there was a race that fitted in the programme another run would be no harm. That would clarify (if we go to Epsom Downs) but he is a horse that we always regarded could be an Epsom horse and I think today has shown we are on the road there.
“Hopefully he can stay in one piece and continue to improve. He is a beautiful horse and has always been a very good looking horse.”
Winning jockey Rob Hornby added: “It was a really nice performance, especially as we hadn’t asked too many questions at home. We were coming here to learn a bit and see what we have got for the rest of the year and to go and do it like that is quite exciting.
“He has been showing at home that he is settling and showing all the right signs that a mile and a half will be the right trip. He didn’t quite step out for the first three but once we got round the bend he relaxed into a good rhythm.
“I was quite taken how he came through the gaps and quickened up the hill. He is an exciting horse to look forward to as he has got a lot of size and scope and ability.
“For a big horse he is hard to know entirely (if would handle Epsom) but he is quite well balanced and is a good mover and for a big horse he is quite light on his feet.
“I’d be encouraged he could handle it more so as he has improved from two to three as he has strengthened into his frame and that gives him every chance. Yes absolutely (I would be pressing them to run at Epsom). I think the Dante would be the perfect step next. A nice flat track at York would be ideal for him to go through the gears and keep it simple and then we can get excited.”
David Simcock, trainer of runner-up Cash, said: “It’s very hard to know what they are at home. He won a maiden at Newmarket that hasn’t worked out terribly well and then run well here so I couldn’t be happier. He’s come home strong, stayed the 10 furlongs well and showed a good turn of foot.
“I really don’t know about targets. There’s lots of people to speak to, so I haven’t a clue! We’ve got a long time to go (until the Cazoo Derby) and things like having another run first to think about. I’m not going to make any calls now but it looks like we’ve got quite a nice horse on our hands and it looks like he’ll stay well.
“What happened in the stalls didn’t help (Cash had been reluctant to load) and I really wish that I hadn’t put him in the stalls yesterday. He was good as gold and it’s just something we do with our horses before we run. That was a real surprise what he did down there and it didn’t help him as he was just a little bit lit up for the first couple of furlongs. Jamie (Spencer, jockey) managed it very well and gave him a lovely ride.”
Alex Merriam, representing Godolphin, said of third home Goldspur: “He’s run well and just got beaten by a couple of better horses on the day, simple as that. We’ll see how he comes out of this and then make a plan moving forward.”