Fay Fay can power home at right time
With the exception of an added 200m, the John Size-trained Fay Fay is back where he was four weeks ago as the horse to beat in a Group One four-year-old event where sweating on the tempo is his greatest concern.
Fay Fay (Douglas Whyte) was beaten by a farcical tempo in the Classic Mile last month and faces the same prospect again in the Classic Cup, but remains the horse to beat nevertheless.
From nine starts he has won five and finished second four times and has given every indication he will be well suited getting out to staying trips.
Stepping to 1,600m for the first time earlier this season, he went bang and won three on end before the ridiculous Classic Mile tempo brought him unstuck last outing.
To put that race into context, Peppermint ran a faster overall time in the 1,600m Class Three half-an-hour earlier, ran down the straight just as fast as Fay Fay and Sweet Orange, and nobody is bouncing around with the idea that Peppermint is a Derby chance. The whole race goes straight into the bin as a guide, even though the personnel today are mostly the same.
If going to 1,800m for the first time brings a response from Fay Fay like going to the mile did in November, then this race is his for the taking.
But then there's the tempo.
The recent history of the Classic Mile-Cup-Derby treble shows that winners of more than one of the three races in a season is rarer than might be expected under set weights but the answer is in the speed.
Ambitious Dragon was good enough to overcome the stop-start tempos last year in the Cup and Derby, Floral Pegasus was best suited by the soft pace in the first two of the treble, but was just outstayed in the 2007 Derby. In 2008, Helene Mascot might have swept the three but for a slow tempo in the Classic Cup, or Derby Trial as it was called, and overraced ferociously behind the winner, specialist sprinter Green Birdie.
Fay Fay is good enough to have taken all three but fell at the first hurdle due to tempo and a very soft pace would not be his friend this time either.
Only outsider Liberator has set out to lead in the past and won, though a fair few of these runners have been reluctantly in front at different times.
Reluctantly, which means that they might be stuck there again but prospects of them pressing the issue are slim and Liberator may get to dictate.
As we saw with Green Birdie, a quality sprinter held up for a late run in a soft 1,800m can stretch to a distance otherwise considered beyond him, so punters shouldn't sell the John Moore-trained Captain Sweet (Tim Clark) short.
He is a class act, if an unlikely stayer, but can reel off a good sectional and is not out of this if it becomes a 400m race where stamina isn't tested.
Stablemate Dan Excel (Damien Oliver), provides the fresh formline after an excellent first-up 1,400m run off just a soft 800m trial. He was underdone there, but the query is that he jumps another 400m and may still be in need of the race to bring him to his top.
And Moore completes the set as far as opposition to Fay Fay, with Smart Giant (Jeff Lloyd) a contender if he brings his A game and even Zaidan has the capacity to surprise.
He has Oliver Doleuze aboard, who has previously won twice in this race, which curiously has only ever been won by French jockeys in its six-season history.