Derby Third Japan Looks Rock Solid in King Edward

The Group Two Kind Edward Stakes at Royal Ascot is often a race that attracts many Derby also-rans, giving them a slight drop in class as they look to pick up a win. They are met by horses who are deemed not quite good enough for the Derby, but have shown a good level of form this season and that is exactly what we have got here. However, one of the also-rans from the Derby this year stands out in this field and that is Japan, who finished third in the big race at a nice price, despite being one of the favourites for the race for most of the winter.

This horse finally reappeared at York before the Derby, but was hugely disappointing in the Dante Stakes. He was a huge drifter that day, going out to a massive price before finishing well back behind the winner in fourth. That was clearly not his running, he must have badly needed that but despite that disappointment, Aidan O’Brien still sent him to Epsom for the showpiece of the season.

He certainly didn’t disappoint there, staying on strongly at the end to claim third position in what was an Aidan O’Brien benefit. That run and piece of form is the best in the field based on what we have seen this season, and that makes him the clear pick and the one to beat here.

His biggest challengers are likely to be those that swerved the Derby in favour of remaining at a lower level, with Private Secretary leading the way in that department. He comes here for the in form John Gosden and Frankie Dettori combination, and on winning all three of his starts so far this season, he has done absolutely nothing wrong. His last win came in a listed race though, he will need to up his game yet again to push Japan here.

Pondus is the other horse who could improve to this kind of level, but all he has won so far is novice races, winning two of  his three runs so far. It is easy to be impressed with the manner of those defeats, but again, he is another horse who will have to step up considerably to get near a horse that has placed in the Derby.

All of that points to Japan having a great chance of picking up his first win of the season here. There are horses with potential, but they all need a big step up to get close, and I don’t think they will do that, leaving Japan to get his head in front.