IN 2015, the John Gosden-trained Golden Horn became the last horse to follow up a success in the Betfred Dante at York with a victory in the Investec Derby. Three years on, and Gosden will be hoping that lightning strikes twice. Same trainer, same route to Epsom. The only question now is whether it will be the same outcome on June 2.

Roaring Lion flattered to deceive as a miler, following up a second-place finish in last year’s Racing Post Trophy and a third in this year’s Craven Stakes with a fifth-place spot in last month’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas.

He always looked like he would improve for a step up in trip though, and sure enough, when raised to a mile-and-two-furlongs for the first time yesterday, he spread-eagled the rest of the Dante field to cruise home by an eased-down four-and-a-half lengths.

Patiently ridden by Oisin Murphy, he waited for a gap to appear behind long-time leader Mildenberger before bursting clear at the two-furlong mark. If anything, he was idling towards the finish, and another step up to a mile-and-a-half at Epsom should see him in an even better light.

He has thrust himself to the front of the pack of English Derby contenders, with all of the leading firms having cut him to a best-priced 7-1 from around 20-1 on the morning of yesterday’s race, but if he is to become the fifth horse in the last 14 years to complete the Dante-Derby double, he will have to do something he has not managed yet.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Saxon Warrior beat him by a neck in the Racing Post Trophy and trounced him by more than two lengths in the Guineas. The Derby distance should bring the pair closer together again, but even Gosden admits it is something of a leap of faith to imagine him turning the tables in just over a fortnight’s time.

“I’ve always said this is his trip,” said Gosden, who also won the Dante two years ago with Wings Of Desire. “He’s proved himself over the distance, and he’s galloped out well.

“He’s a lovely horse, but he’s a playboy. He’s been a right old jack-the-lad, but he’s got much more professional recently and he’s really been in the zone. I was expecting a performance like that and would have been disappointed if he hadn’t won.

“But it all points to Saxon Warrior. He beat us in the Racing Post Trophy and was impressive in the Guineas. It confirms that the best Derby trial is the Guineas, and then this is probably the second best trial.”

Gosden refused to conclusively commit Roaring Lion to Epsom after the race, suggesting the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly, run the day after the English Derby, could be an alternative option. However, it is hard to imagine the colt’s owners, Qatar Racing, passing up the chance of an English Classic, and he is likely to get the opportunity to take his chance at the start of next month.

Mildenberger plugged on well to claim second yesterday, and while the James Doyle-ridden colt was unable to give Mark Johnston his second successive Dante win after Permian triumphed 12 months ago, he did enough to suggest he could be a factor in some of the summer’s leading middle-distance events.

Having carved out a relatively sedate early pace, Mildenberger stayed on stoutly after Roaring Lion burst clear, and while he was no match for the winner, he outperformed the likes of Nordic Lights and Crossed Baton, as well as the Tim Easterby-trained Wells Farhh Go, who looked more of a St Leger candidate than a prospect for the Derby.

Johnston’s horses have now finished second in two of the leading Derby trials, with Dee Ex Bee having finished second behind Young Rascal in the MBNA Chester Vase, and the Middleham trainer will spend the next couple of weeks firming up his Derby plans.

At this stage, Elarqam, who finished fourth in the 2,000 Guineas, looks his likeliest Derby runner, with the bookmakers quoting him at half the price of either Mildenberger or Dee Ex Bee.

Gosden was celebrating a double success yesterday as Coronet confirmed herself as one of the leading middle-distance mares in training as she landed the Group Two Middleton Stakes.

Coronet might not quite be in the class of Enable, who pipped her to the post in last year’s Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire, but very few horses are, and yesterday’s comprehensive victory suggests she should be more than capable of building on her three-year-old campaign.

She put yesterday’s race to bed at an early stage of proceedings, cruising clear of runner-up Horseplay halfway down the home straight, and promises to be even better when stepped back up to her preferred distance of a mile-and-a-half.

“We’re well aware that a mile and two furlongs, on the top of the ground, is not really her forte,” said Gosden. “So we’ll be looking forward to getting her back up to a mile-and-a-half, but she won that really nicely.

“She’s in the Hardwicke (at Royal Ascot), so that’s there to look at. If not, there’s also the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.”