It’s time for the much anticipated Epsom Derby meeting where the features are the Coronation Cup (Friday; June 4; 2:45 p.m. GMT; a Group 1 for 4yo+; one and a half miles); Oaks (Friday; June 4; 4:05 p.m. GMT); and the big one the Derby (Saturday, June 5; 4:00 p.m. GMT). The ground at Epsom is riding good (good to firm in places) and it’s been watered all week but the promoters have ceased watering for fear of overdoing it if it should rain.
The Coronation Cup on Friday is definitely a two horse race with Ballydoyle’s FAME AND GLORY (BANKER BET) clashing with last year’s Oaks heroine Sariska who ran very well on going considered too fast for her in winning her seasonal reappearance in the Group 2 Middleton Stakes at York (10f) by 1 3/4l from Mid-day who she had beaten by a head at Epsom in the Oaks last year. This shows that she has definitely progressed from 3 to 4 but she still prefers give in the ground and to run twice on fastish ground this time stepped up to the highest grade against one of the classiest four year old colts around is just asking too much. Last year, FAME AND GLORY was 1 3/4l 2nd to Sea The Stars in the Derby (not fully would up and with the race run to suit stable companion Rip Van Winkle); 2 1/2l second to Sea The Stars in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown; and 4 1/2l 6th to Sea The Stars in the Arc De Triomphe.
Now that Sea The Stars is retired, it’s time for FAME AND GLORY to step up to the plate and take over the mantle as Champion older horse. He’s a cinch and is still available at odds-against so get in early and often!!!
The Oaks will be a more competitive event with Henry Cecil starting two fancied fillies and Aidan O’Brien 3. Of the Aidan O’Brien trio, Remember When (Johnny Murtagh up) is the most intriguing although she’s still a maiden after 3 runs but her latest staying on 1/2l 4th in the Irish 1,000 Guineas (shd behind Music Show, 3rd) could not have been more impressive and she has since been cut from 25/1 to 8/1 in the betting for the Oaks. The Marcus Tregoning trained Rumoush (7th in the 2,000 Guineas; 3/4l behind Music Show both racing on the “wrong” side of the racecourse) also has a big shout and is fancied to finish in front of Remember When (by Danehill Dancer out of a Diesis mare) who isn’t really bred to get much beyond 10f whilst Rumoush (by Rahy out of a Mr Prospector mare) who has already won over 9f at Newmarket is far more likely to see out the Oaks trip.
But both of these should only have 3rd place as their best hope as the fillies’ expert, Henry Cecil, is fully expected to fill the first two places with Timepiece (disappointing 2nd at 4/7 to Dyna Waltz in the Lingfield Oaks trial on reappearance)and AVIATE (brilliant winner of a substandard Musidora at York). The trainer has insisted that Timepiece still carries his full confidence but stable jock Tom Queally rides AVIATE whose scintillating turn of foot to win the Musidora after finding trouble in running should prove the determining factor.
Saturday’s card will be dominated by the Big Race, The Investec Derby where Aidan O’Brien’s Jan Vermeer has already been posted a short priced favourite since the withdrawal of St Nicholas Abbey after a poor workout last Friday followed by the diagnosis of a pulled muscle in his hindquarters. St Nicholas Abbey had been the “can’t lose” favourite for this race since October last year and O’Brien’s interviews before and after his Guineas flop have continued to be glowing and it was felt that the horse could walk on water.
But Ballydoyle had three other candidates for the race including impressive Dante Stakes winner Capo Blanco; Derrinstown Derby Trial winner Midas Touch and Jan Vermeer, a strong Derby fancy since winning the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint Cloud in November but he has been very slow to come to hand this year and made his reappearance in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes on May 23, winning easily. Jan Vermeer has all the credentials to be a Derby winner but it’s only been 13 days since his reappearance run and he’s far from certain to act on the famous Epsom roller-coaster. Ballydoyle hasn’t won the Derby since 2002 despite 19 losing runners since and it boggles the mind to think that the English are so poor that the Irish third string can beat them. He’s short enough a price to do so and is just no value at all as a betting prospect so give him a swerve. Cape Blanco , suspect at the trip, misses the race to contest the French Derby on Sunday but Midas Touch very much lines up and is a more likely winner and a great each way punt.
Now the Dante Stakes is the best Derby Trial. It has been run 54 times and, in the previous 53 renewals, no horse beaten in the Dante has ever won the Derby. But the Dante winner goes to France so this leaves WORKFORCE (nap) with a fantastic chance to break that trend. This horse went into my notebook as a likely Derby winner from he made the most impressive reappearance I have ever seen by a two year old at Goodwood last September. The second Oasis Dancer (beaten 6l) has since won a handicap off a mark of 93 by 2l. Without more, this puts WORKFORCE’s notional handicap mark well into the 100s which is good enough to win a pattern race on debut. But, Balducci, second to Oasis Dancer in that handicap, has further franked the form by winning on either side of his loss to Oasis Dancer including a Class 2 Handicap at Haydock.
WORKFORCE was another that took forever to come to hand this year and had to miss the Guineas but ran a cracker in the Dante despite greenness, finding the ground too firm and having to endure the misfortune of the bit slipping through his mouth. After all that, he began laying out late and finished a closing second to Cape Blanco. Unlimited improvement can be expected from this beautifully bred son of King’s Best (dam, unraced sister to St Leger winner Brian Boru) and I was expecting him to have been England’s first triple crown winner since God knows when but he wasn’t able to take up the Guineas entry.
Thuis is the bet of the meeting. Take WORKFORCE (nap) to win The Derby with lengths to spare.

Good Luck!


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