Ascot looks the logical next step for Golden Horn’s Arc journey

As Golden Horn forged clear to extend his unbeaten record at Sandown in taking the Eclipse, the colt wrote his name in history, as just the fourth horse since 1970 to take the Derby and the Esher Group 1 in the same year.

So where now for John Gosden’s superstar?

The undoubted target, assuming the ground is suitable, looks to be the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October, for which the son of Cape Cross was shortened to 5/1 (from 6/1) after Saturday’s success.

Owner Sir Anthony Oppenheimer would need to pay the €100,000 supplementary fee to add him for the race with no entry in the pipeline at the moment, but it would surely be too tempting to pass up.

And with two of the three horses to have complete the Derby-Eclipse double – Sea the Stars, and Mill Reef – ending their triumphant seasons with victory at Longchamp, a French trip looks on the cards.

Such a victory would see Golden Horn hailed as one of the greats, with a career at stub looking the on the horizon at the end of his three-year-old campaign.

There is though, a three month gap to fill before any excursions to Paris can take place, and there will be ample opportunities to add more success in the meantime.

The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stakes at Ascot may well come too soon for Gosden’s stable-star but it certainly looks the logical next step.

Three weeks is the gap between the two races, and having lined up the Derby 23 days after his Dante success, he is capable of performing after short breaks, but his handler will surely be worried about the possibility of his racing catching up with him.

As evens favourite, there is certainly more juice in the price compared to the 4/9 he was sent off at for his Sandown victory, but with the likes of Arc runner-up Flintshire and Hardwicke Stakes winner Snow Sky in contentions there will be new foes to see off.

The Juddmonte International was Sea the Stars next port of call en route to the Arc, and with a course and distance success in the Dante Stakes already in the bag, Gosden will know that the track and trip will be bang up his street.

One point to note though is that the 11lb weight-for-age allowance that Golden Horn received in the Eclipse, and would receive at Ascot, is reduced to 8lb if taking on his elders at York.

Nevertheless, the nature in which Dettori pulled away from the gallant The Grey Gatsby in Esher suggests there was plenty more in the tank.

Of the last seven three-year-old Eclipse winners, six took in a trip to Leopardstown for the Irish Champion Stakes, so appears to be the ‘done thing’, although with the ground in Ireland generally more susceptible to being on the soft side, it looks unlikely that that trends will continue.

Wherever the Derby winner heads next, he will likely go off a short price and most probably put his opponents in their place, but it is a clash with wonder mare Treve and Longchamp on October 4 that will be the real test of his credentials.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.