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Coronation Cup preview

There's more than just one Group 1 race on Derby day, the Coronation Cup is the traditional test for older horses but once again it's dominated by St Nicholas Abbey. Returning to the blog is regular contributor @lara_pocock with her look at this time-honoured contest.

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Coronation Cup

The Group One Coronation Cup over the Derby course and distance is held in the lead up to the big race and has been won the last two years by the Aidan O'Brien-trained St Nicholas Abbey. The six-year-old is set to take on four rivals in this year's renewal, which means the five runner race is a betting dream if the odds-on favourite hacks up as easily as everyone expects.

The ground at Epsom is officially given as good to soft, although with another dry day forecast this could change.

1. Chamonix (25-1) - A lightly raced four-year-old from the O'Brien stable who is likely to act as pacemaker here. He has won three of his five starts, including two Listed races, and has been off the track since October last year.

2. Chapter Seven (66-1) - Another four-year-old who is likely to be the pacemaker for Dunaden, with the two being owned by Pearl Bloodstock. Trained by Stuart Williams, Chapter Seven has not won above handicap level and was third in the Spring Cup over a mile at Newbury on 20 April. He is another who is unlikely to trouble the principals here once his role has been completed.

3. Dunaden (3-1) - The Melbourne and Caulfield Cup winner never disappoints and is the one who could topple St Nicholas Abbey here if the betting is an indication. He ran a good race when third behind the German-trained Pastorius in the Group One Prix Ganay at Longchamp on 28 April after putting in some solid efforts on the international stage in Hong Kong and Dubai. Has never run at Epsom but should put in a fine performance.

4. Joshua Tree (10-1) - Disappointing when sixth in the Group Two Yorkshire Cup for new connections but jockey Ryan Moore got the best out of him last season when winning the Group Two Prix Kergorlay. Another Epsom debutant, who has won two Grade One Canadian International races. He is the third choice but can often surprise.

5. St Nicholas Abbey (2-5) - Having won the Group One Racing Post Trophy as a juvenile big things were expected of this son of Montjeu. Although disappointing at three in his Classic season he has regained respect with four Group One under his belt. St Nicholas Abbey has not put a foot wrong this season, winning the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic over this distance, in which Dunaden was fourth, at Meydan on Dubai World Cup night. If the same horse turns up today he will be very difficult to beat. Before this race last year St Nicholas Abbey was second in a Group Three when odds on after a trip to Dubai, the longer recovery time may have helped but this does need to be noted.

With an odds-on favourite in a five runner race there is not much value to be had, with the only possible threats Dunaden, who is again aiming for a trip to Melbourne for the Spring Carnival, and Joshua Tree, who can be rather in and out. I cannot see the favourite being beaten, although his disappointing performance after he returned from international travel last season is a worry as he has been fragile in the past.

At 10-1 Joshua Tree is certainly worth backing each-way for the second place and I would put him in for the forecast with the favourite. He can often surprise with a big run and maybe the change of scenery and regime has taken a while to agree with him. Dunaden has not won in Europe since April 2011, when he took the Group Three Prix de Barbeville, and connections will be aiming to protect his mark for this year's cups.

The two pacemakers are outclassed here, with Chamonix the better of the two and if he gets a head start on the rest of the field he could finish a surprising third.

1. St Nicholas Abbey
2. Joshua Tree
3. Chamonix

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