04/24/2002 12:00AM

English Derby prep at Sandown


The British road to the English Derby begins at Sandown Park on Friday with the 1 1/4-mile Group 3 Classic Trial Stakes.

Trainer Michael Stoute could have two runners in a race that was won two years ago by Sakhee. Right Approach, whom rider Keiren Fallon has called possibly the best horse he has ever sat on, has much to prove, showing just a single allowance win from two starts at 2. Stoute's other possibility, Hathaal, a half-brother to three-time Group 1 winner Petrushka, is a maiden winner from two starts and stands an equal chance with his stablemate.

The Mark Johnston-trained Simeon, already a two-time winner this season, steps up from a seven-length handicap score in search of his fifth consecutive victory, but the proven class of the field may be Tholjanah.

Trained by Marcus Tregoning for Hamdan Al Maktoum, Tholjanah, sired by Darshaan, is out of a Sadler's Wells mare who is a half-sister to the great stayer Ardross. Second in the one-mile Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes last September, Tholjanah will only get better as the distances grow longer.