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Gosden planning two-pronged assault on Epsom Derby

John Gosden has yet to win a Derby but the eloquent Newmarket handler will be hoping he can spring something of a surprise on more high profile contenders when he saddles Masked Marvel and Nathaniel in Saturday's eagerly anticipated renewal of the world's greatest Flat race, writes Elliot Slater.

Although neither appears amongst the first rank of possible winners in the ante-post list for the big race, both horses have progressive profiles and Gosden is certainly not a trainer to run his horses in races where they have no chance whatsoever, something the Derby betting reflects. The fact that this particularly shrewd operator is prepared to chance his arm with his two contenders suggests that he anticipates both to run with plenty of credit.

Of the pair Masked Marvel is the more fancied (according to the betting markets), being generally on offer at 25/1, although he is as short as 16/1 with some firms. Having found underfoot conditions against him both at Ascot at the end of last term and at Sandown in April, the Montjeu colt had his preferred decent ground when tackling listed company at Goodwood a couple of weeks ago and put up a taking performance in lengthening well to beat Namibian by an easy three-lengths. He might have something still to find on official figures, but Masked Marvel is definitely not without hope.

Nathaniel has probably the best bare form of any horse in the Epsom Derby field, but he has proved a frustrating performer at times. Beaten only half-a-length by the superb Frankel on his racecourse bow at Newmarket last August, he then failed by just a short-head to beat Picture Editor at Doncaster a month later. Reappearing to land long-odds-on in a Haydock maiden contest in April, Lady Rothschild's colt then failed by just a head to peg back Aidan O'Brien's Treasure Beach in the Group 3 Chester Vase three weeks ago.

Currently on offer at 40/1, should Nathaniel spring a surprise and land the spoils form students will be kicking themselves at not having backed the horse who so nearly defeated Frankel on the first run of his career.


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