GBI RACING

Rip-Roaring Lion sets John Gosden a Derby poser

Roaring Lion has a choice of Classic options after his York win (Simon Cooper/PA)

Epsom or Chantilly? That is the question facing connections of Roaring Lion after he stated his Derby case with a scintillating display in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York.

Always considered the best trial for the Investec Derby after the 2000 Guineas, there is one big obstacle standing in his way – the imperious winner of that classic, Saxon Warrior.

Roaring Lion’s trainer John Gosden has the utmost respect for the odds-on Derby favourite, given they have taken him on twice and been on the receiving end both times.

John Gosden has a big call to make over which Derby to run in
John Gosden has a big call to make over which Derby to run in (Simon Cooper/PA)

Stepped up to 10 furlongs for the first time, the grey put behind him two disappointing runs this season in justifying 3-1 favouritism, beating Mark Johnston’s Mildenberger by a yawning four and a half lengths.

“I’ve always said this is his trip and he’s proved himself over a mile and a quarter. I liked the way he hit the line strong. He’s galloped out well,” said Gosden.

“I think it just confirms the fact that the best Derby trial is the Guineas and this is probably the second best Derby trial.”

Oisin Murphy all smiles picking up his Betfred Dante trophy
Oisin Murphy all smiles picking up his Betfred Dante trophy (Simon Cooper/PA)

Asked about the Derby, Gosden said: “I think we’ll see how he is over the next few days and if he’s in great nick we’ll make a decision about which race to go for (Epsom or French Derby).

“They (Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion) are the two nicest colts in Europe, the French Guineas was a bit of a muddle.

“We thought we had him beat and Donny and then I don’t know what happened, we all went left, our boy messed about and he came back and beat us fair and square.

“We’ve given ourselves something to think about. I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t done that, to be honest.”

Frankie Dettori treats the crowd after Coronet's win
Frankie Dettori treats the crowd after Coronet’s win (Simon Cooper/PA)

Gosden was also on target in the Betfred Middleton Stakes with Ribblesdale winner Coronet (2-1 favourite).

Over a trip short of her best, she showed a surprising turn of foot to beat Horseplay by a length and a half under Frankie Dettori.

Gosden said: “She’s in the Hardwicke (at Royal Ascot) and that is there for her to look at. If not, there’s the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.”

Main Desire (12-1) gave Michael Bell a welcome boost a day after he was forced to rule his Gold Cup winner Big Orange out for the season.

Off the track since winning at the corresponding meeting last year, the unbeaten filly held off Hey Jonesy by a neck under Danny Tudhope in the British Stallion Studs EBF Westow Stakes.

Nick Bell, the trainer’s son, said “She’s very quick and that’s a great result given she’s been off the track for a year.

“It will be Ascot now, she’s in the King’s Stand and the Commonwealth Cup and it’s a nice position to have to choose.”

John Quinn has the Prix de l’Abbaye at the back of his mind for El Astronaute after his all-the-way win in the Betfred “Supports Jack Berry House” Handicap.

“I thought at the start of the season that if there was a little bit of improvement in him, and it looks like there has been, then he might be one for the Abbaye,” said Quinn.

“It might be pie in the sky, but once you get rated around 105 then you may as well have a crack at it as it is so hard to win handicaps off that sort of mark.”

Afaak (9-2) has Royal Ascot on his agenda after returning to winning ways in the Betfred TV Hambleton Handicap for Jim Crowley and Charlie Hills.

The Wolferton Handicap over 10 furlongs and the Royal Hunt Cup over a mile are among his options.

Mark Johnston’s I’m A Dreamer (8-1) broke his duck at the third attempt in the six furlong maiden, surviving a stewards’ inquiry after carrying Kessaar across the track.