Preview: Epsom Derby

Big surprise in the Oaks today – 50/1 shocker Qualify got up to deny Legatissimo the Guinas & Oaks double. That says, if you would have been brave enough, you could have got easily 100/1 for the winner this morning…. I didn’t, that is for sure, completely dismissed this filly. I got it wrong. But it helps to know that most got it wrong.

My filly Together Forever had not too many excuses. Up with the pace, which wasn’t a strong one, she got bumped 2f out, but I felt she was already out of it at that point anyway. Lady Of Dubai finished a fine third. I’m somewhat happy she didn’t win. I was very fond of her beforehand was slapping my face this morning when I saw the money pouring in for her, knowing I left 14/1 on the table the night before

Anyway, that’s the Oaks. History now. Let’s concentrate on what’s in front of us: The Derby!

4.30 Epsom: English Derby, Group 1, 1m 4f 10y

Golden Horn: Favourite, impressive winner of the Dante Stakes. as the key trial. I marked him as one to follow in my Horses To Follow article. Hard to oppose on form but question mark is the trip. I have him down as a 10f horse, though he might be able to stretch out to the Derby distance. Whether he stays the trip is not really the question, though, it’s more whether he’s able to stay it in a way that enables him to beat horses who are certain to get it.

Jack Hobbs: Runaway winner of a Sandown Handicap. Proved his class in Dante with good runner-up effort. Clearly not yet the finished article and fair chance to stay the trip. That says his dam hasn’t produced a winner over 12f yet. Likely to improve again but has to do so if he wants to go close.

Elm Park: Racingpost Trophy winner. Didn’t do anything wrong when third in Dante on seasonal reappearance. He’ll come on for that and I expect him to finish much closer to Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs this time. He clearly stays, will get the trip, but has to prove he can be top class on better ground. However if there is anything soft in the ground come 4.30 Saturday afternoon he must have a prime chance.

Giovanni Canaletto: Another one from my Horses To Follow list. Lightly raced, this lack of experience may count against him. But he looked smart when winning a minor race as a juvenile and his comeback run a fortnight ago was promising the way he finished from a poor position. He’s a full-brother to 2013 Derby winner Ruler Of The World and should improve for the trip. Like his big brother, he’s fitted with cheep-pieces for the Derby.

Epicuris: Group 1 winner in heavy conditions as a juvenile. Form doesn’t really work out, and not too exciting on seasonal reappearance when only 2nd in Group 3. Known for his problems in the preliminaries of a race and unclear if he can be fully effective on better ground.

Hans Holbein: Lightly raced Chester Vase winner. Probably needs soft ground and more of a Leger type. Big question mark whether he’s quick enough to win the Derby.

Kilimanjaro: Witnessed with my own eyes when this lad got the mark in a Dundalk maiden back in April. Won the Derby Trial at Lingfield since then. Fair type but I find it hard to see him good enough to win a Derby.

 Moheet: Looked exciting as a juvenile but hasn’t fulfilled promise in couple of starts this year. He may improve with time and experience but the Derby distance looks very ambitious.

Storm The Stars: One of the more experienced individuals, yet he looked still a big baby in his races. Took him a while to get off the mark but clearly progressing and the trip is in his blood. Might be up with the pace and wouldn’t mind making all if needed. Very dangerous if allowed an easy lead.

Success Days: Progressive and impressive in Ireland this year. Likely needs it soft to be seen to best effect and very dubious stayer on pedigree.

Rogue Runner: German raider who won two minor races in his native country. May improve for the step up to Derby trip but very hard to see him good enough to land a blow.

Carbon Dating: Still a maiden, big chance to finish last.

Verdict: Ground seems key. If there are any soft patches in the ground I believe Elm Park must go really close. But with the ground probably drying out over night, I feel there are others races later the year which are likely to suit better. Golden Horn is top class and will go close if he truly gets the trip. But given his very short price is easily opposable.

I admit I’m not getting warm with Jack Hobbs and don’t see why he is shorter than a couple of others. He’s a good horse and may even develop into top class, but for now I have Elm Park higher in the packing order.

However it’s clearly Giovanni Canaletto who gets the nod from me. I have a 16/1 ante-post bet on him, but he’s still a 9/1 chance, which strikes me as too big – therefore I nominate him as my selection for the Derby. He’s clearly classy, has the right credentials on pedigree and first time headgear should help to settle and focus when it matters.

Giovanni Canaletto @ 9/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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