O’Brien Septet head the entries for the 2019 Coronation Cup

O’Brien Septet head the entries for the 2019 Coronation Cup

Entries were announced for the 2019 Coronation Cup at Epsom and Aidan O’Brien has no fewer than 7 of the 18 that are still entered for the Group One contest, won last year by John Gosden’s Cracksman in a thrilling finish.

Heading his entries is Kew Gardens, the 2018 St Leger winner, who is ante-post favourite for the race with most firms. He also has the top filly Magical, priced around 5/1 and the 2017 Irish Derby winner Capri among his septet.

Most notable among the absentees was Gosden’s superstar filly Enable, last see when winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf at the tail end of last season.  It appears that connections are going to start her off for the season at Royal Ascot and give the Epsom meeting a miss.

But gosden won’t be empty handed as he has three entries headed by last year’s start stayer Stradivarius, who won a million pound bonus after completing a clean sweep of the season’s key staying events.  That was akin to the horse becoming a lottery winner and although they are likely to follow the same path as last year in an attempt to land that big bonus again, he’d be an interesting contender if he did line up at Epsom.

Gosden’s trio are completed by the fillies Lah Ti Dar and Coronet, both of whom have looked a little short at the very top level but would be sure to go well if turning up.

The improving Mark Johnston trained pair Mildenberger (33/1) and Communique (25/1) would surely look to ensure the race was a solid test as both stay well. They finished first and third in the recent Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket and with both improving and guaranteed to stay there would be worse outsiders in a race that can throw up the odd shock result.

Andrew Baldin’s Morando was impressive in heavy ground at Chester last week but he is another who could struggle at the highest level and connections would surely be hoping for rain to help his chances.

Roger Varian’s Defoe hasn’t really risen to the heights some thought he would at the outset of his four year old season. Now five, he needs to find a bit to get involved at the business end.

Last year’s runner-up Salouen, just chinned in the last 100 yards by Cracksman in a thrilling renewal twelve months ago, looks likely to line up again. He made a very pleasing return to action last weekend and would not be out of it on a track and trip that suit him well.

Melbourne Cup form is represented by Marmelo, second in last November’s Australian spectacular. Trainer Hughie Morrison is not known for tilting at windmills and if he were to turn up there would be few finishing more strongly. Whether he’d have the class to cope with the likes of Kew Gardens and Magical is another matter.

So, the stage looks set once again for a fantastic renewal of the Coronation Cup, which will be run the day before the Derby, on Oaks day. It’ll be fascinating to see who lines up and whether one of the dark horses can come to the fore  and upset Aidan O’Brien’s monopoly of the season’s big races.

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