Gelding wins Derby Trial
Epsom's Derby Trial doesn't have a history of producing runners for the big race and there'll be no change this year as Goldoni is a gelding.
Horses to have undergone the delicate operation are not eligible for the Investec Derby itself and the sponsors' decision to dangle the significant carrot of a guaranteed place in the Classic can be rolled over for another 12 months.
Increased prize-money for the 10-furlong conditions race, and a chance of a practice over the uniquely undulating course, saw Aidan O'Brien and Roger Varian saddle promising colts but their respective runners Thomasgainsborough (fourth) and Cameron Highland (third) appeared to dislike the unusually soft ground.
This resulted in a duel between Goldoni (15-2) and Mister Music in the home straight, with David Probert managing to pull a length and three-quarters clear in the final furlong.
"It saves Investec some money," said winning trainer Andrew Balding. "I do think it's a good initiative and hopefully we'll still have a horse good enough to run in the Derby.
"He was a pretty useful horse anyway but he has improved a lot for being gelded and should have a good season.
"He'll probably run in the Lingfield Derby Trial now and then the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot."
Varian said of Cameron Highland, who was some way adrift as the 9-4 favourite: "He travelled well but it was just the ground. We'll need to see how he is, but there's not much time left to go for another Derby trial and we might end up going down the handicap route."
John Gosden was impressed with Aiken's ability to win the Investec Great Metropolitan Handicap in style, despite the wretched conditions high in the Surrey Hills.
Successful on his final three starts last year at Chester, Sandown and Ascot, Aiken (100-30 favourite) had been put away in order to save him for better options as a four-year-old.
It took him a little while to get accustomed to the cambers but got into his stride in the home straight and just survived a dramatic late challenge from First Avenue.
"The problem we had as a three-year-old was that once you reach a handicap mark of 90-plus you can't find a race for half the season, and that's a problem," said Gosden.
"He has trained well this spring and it was a good effort on that ground. The Great Met is a good prize in its own right - I used to come here with my old man to see it."
Right Step (14-1) was produced with a flourish by Jim Crowley to claim another famous prize from yesteryear, the Investec City And Suburban Handicap.
Alan Jarvis' gelding, back from a stint over hurdles, trumped Sirvino with his impressive finish and bounded a length and a half clear.
Jarvis said: "He's incredibly genuine. He's got a name for himself for always coming second but he's just been unlucky.
"He could come back here for a race he's been second in before, or go to a race at York he was also second in."
New trainer Scott Dixon made an instant impression after Cadeaux Pearl (25-1) powered up the windy five-furlong straight in the Investec Specialist Bank Handicap.
"That's my first winner from my first runner here," said Dixon.
"Kieren Fallon was impressed with him. I thought he'd like the track - I was a bit worried whether he'd handle the soft ground but he loved it.
"We knew he was fit but he'd ruined his chance at Windsor last time as he bolted before the start."
Silvestre de Sousa was given a two-day ban (May 9-10) for careless riding on Taurus Twins.
Valley of Destiny, who had made progress on his two swift outings this spring, was third-time-lucky when back to a mile as 6-4 favourite in the Investec Asset Management Maiden Stakes.
Richard Hannon junior, assistant to father Richard, said: "He took time coming to hand as he was a very big two-year-old."
Stuart Williams' 14-1 shot Jane Lachatte came good on her handicap bow in the extended mile event, also sponsored by Investec.
Williams said: "I thought the step up in trip would help but the ground was the question, as you wouldn't work on this in Newmarket."